Plans vs Processes
Everybody loves plans. Planning gives you some control on what you will be encountering. Planning gives you control on how you will travel to point A to Z. Planning gives you control of visualizing what you want to achieve and provides a roadmap on how to achieve your goals. Planning gives you control of your time with to-do lists, KPI’s, target dates, and more.
Problem is, planning gives the illusion of control. Planning adds stress if certain steps aren’t met by the “plans timeline”, or if your industry/customer pivots it throws you off. Now you have to focus on things you have to do to get BACK on the plan.
Plans sound great, however I’ve noticed when I lay a plan out, or plan how I’m going to accomplish some goals, things go haywire. External and internal factors and events occur where plans can be thrown out the window. Then I begin feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything because the plan I made weeks ago just doesn’t fit into the current environment of what I’m dealing with. I begin to focus my attention on creating a NEW plan to get back to the ORIGINAL plan. Then I question myself that if I couldn’t foresee the external events, and my plan is thrown off, am I really capable of running my own business? After all, I can’t even stick to the plan that I WROTE!
Which is why I try to follow a process. A process is a series of fluid steps that get me from point A to Z and enjoy the journey along the way. Processes allow the freedom of the stress of not hitting deadlines that are self imposed. Processes are a part of plan but not as rigid as plans are.
Process is having a direction, a north, a destination but not sure what it looks like getting there. When I first started Connection Crüe I thought I would be focusing on Content Creation. Mimicking my previous success at standing out on social media platforms versus the competition. I thought it would be well received, I thought I would make a hit. Make some memes, sit in front of my computer and tag some folks, create some throw down graphics for a company and boom. I’d be doing creative things, and I’d be getting paid for it. Soon I realized that what I was describing was a social media manager, and I realized that KPO’s, ISO, Google Search Enhancements, etc. were all things that my success and customer satisfaction would be gauged against. Yeah, I could learn all of that, clean up my graphics, learn how to create visual graphics that actually don’t look like shit, figure out Google SEO in an industry that doesn’t use Google, etc. But did I really want to do that?
After discussing with a friend one night during a playdate with my daughter and his daughters we discussed what am I good at, and how can that bring value? This was the beginning of Crüe Club, the successful networking group that brings together E&P Operators (aka customers) and a few OFS (Oilfield Service Companies) together around a room, invitational only for some QA/QC, shifting from what so many networking events focus on (the business transactional convos), and developing genuine authentic and quality relationships.
Here is where the Process mindset vs the Planning mindset came into my life…and thankfully I switched to the process mindset. I began to plan it, the name of it, locations, what we can do, who we could get in the same room, what dates would be put events together, etc. Soon after planning exact dates, times, people to attend, and everything else, I was let down. The people I believed could and would make time to attend an event simply couldn’t, either due to work or personal schedule conflicts. Not only that the companies I believed would line up to try and get membership to this Club were passing on the opportunity, or not even getting back to me. Nothing was working out according to my original “plan”.
My plan was shit. I knew my plan was shit. I can’t even stick to the plan that I created. What was wrong with me? Did I bite off too much? Did I talk myself into a situation where I would start my own company, but be WAY outside my scope of knowledge? It certainly felt that way because my plan was not WORKING! Something I realized as I was getting discouraged and frustrated and having a pity party is there was something wrong. Not just with the plan, but also with my mindset.
This entire idea of starting a new company at 41, venturing out on my own, jumping into something that is new to an industry that prides itself on “this is the way it’s always been done” was 100% novel to me. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I was figuring it out. So why in the hell was I beating myself up so much over a plan to support my family that relied solely on OTHER PEOPLES ACTIONS? That was it, my plan sucked because the majority was focused on external factors, from other people, to be successful- NOT from anything that I could control. So screw the plan, what could me, JP, control and get behind without worrying about the people I needed to behave a certain way for my plan to succeed.
So if I was new at this whole thing, why the hell would I rely and put so much faith on a plan when I had no idea what the hell I was doing in the first place? What could I focus on to get me to Z? It wasn’t sticking to the plan that would “determine success” (after all what was really success), it was figuring out how I would succeed…aka the process. The process of building something. The process of going solo. The process of getting from A to Z. The process of navigating roadblocks. The process of failing. The process of accepting the reality sometimes comes out different than expectations. I had to flow with the process, I had to embrace it, I had to enjoy it. I had to change how I viewed things, and realized this was a fun story being written of my life. A new chapter. So would I want my book to be a simple book with no obstacles, roadblocks, challenges, and failures? Or would I want to choose one that has failures, lessons learned, being humbled, successes, frustrations, and some great times along the way?
I had to embrace the process OF the process of building something.
“When you stick to a plan you plant your seed in a pot, and it probably will be confined to that pot. You follow the process, you plant the seed in the open it unleashes the opportunity for your 'plans' to grow beyond your wildest dreams.” - cheesy analogy...but you get the point.