Every once in a while, a song reminds you of something so basic that you’re embarrassed to have forgotten it.
I had an incident like that recently and I thought I’d help you guys to remember the principle as well. It’s from John Lennon‘s last album and it’s from Beautiful Boy, a song written to his son. But it might as well be etched in the cornerstone of every business in which I’ve ever worked.
Here are the lyrics I mean:
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans
Other plans indeed. Too often we wait for the quants to tell us that’s going on or the consultants to weigh in before we act and the opportunity is missed or the crisis is even worse. “Don’t rock the boat” ought to get people fired but instead it just robs them and their employers of some really precious things: time, peripheral vision, etc. What do I mean? Complacency, I guess.
The song is about assumptions and what we need to do, constantly, is ask ourselves what are the assumptions upon which we base our thinking. How solid are those assumptions and what can we/should we do if they change or prove to be invalid?
Does this mean that we need to be able to tell the future? HA! I work in digital, a place where five-minute plans are solid, five-week plans are OK, five month plans are fuzzy, and five-year plans are non-existent or not worth the bytes they occupy on your hard drive. No matter what “other plans” you make, life has a way of happening in the interim.
So what’s happened to you while you were making other plans? Me? I started a new life as a consultant despite other plans. Funny how sometimes it all works out anyway!