“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
Coaching my oldest daughter’s softball team was a blast. It gave us time to hang out and see her learn to play a sport. Besides all of the fundamental stuff, her head coach drilled them on things like “pickle” plays (where a base runner gets stuck between two bases), bunts and squeeze plays. One day on the way home from practice, she asked me why we even bothered doing those drills because they never seemed to happen in a game. I had asked the same questions as a kid and gave her the same answer that was given to me years before. To win, you want to be prepared for everything and to be prepared means to have thought about and practiced for rare situations.
Last season, the Bills and the Chiefs football game had a weather delay of over an hour. Tony Dungy talked about what the teams might be doing to not let the disruption take them off of their game plan. He mentioned how a former head coach he worked for even practiced this by interrupting practice sessions for 25 minutes and then asking players to resume as if nothing had happened.
Ryan Holiday of the Daily Stoic wrote: “We’ve all had our routines disrupted. We’ve had our plans dashed. We’ve been in the zone then forced out of it. The Stoics had [what they called] premeditaio malorum practices”. You can read more about it here but the idea is to be prepared through thought and practice for as much as possible. Sometimes it’s simple. The first 20 or so product demo’s I did, I kept screenshots of everything on my desktop so if there were any system issues I could quickly jump to those to finish the explanation (fortunately I only had to use them once!).
I’ll close with this – a rewording of a quote on negative visualization from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations book updated to sound like he wrote it in the last decade or so:
“[Sometimes I think to myself, today I’ll have to deal with an immature person, with an unthankful person, a hater, a fake person, false, a rude person.
All these toxic qualities they have, they picked up through they’re own unawareness of what is real, what is truly good and truly bad. But remember, this transgressor, I’m related to – not by the same blood,
but by because I’ve been those things and we’re all human. How can I either be hurt by any of those, since it is not in their power to make words truly cause permanent harm?
We are all born the same so to be at odds is against nature and there is nothing to gain by being in opposition.]”
One thought on “Hope for the Best; but First, Plan.”
I totally understand the need for keeping screenshots on your computer in the middle of a demo! I happened to be doing an important demo for a certain large client once and in the middle of it, I had a system error. In my email inbox I kept another live link so that I could click on it in the event I had a technical difficulty. Voilà, the demo continued like nothing happened. Our CEO was happy, my manager and his manager were happy, and we learned later on that we won the relationship!