25 Mar 2024

The six pillars of personal leadership: Plan

The third in a series of blogs exploring the six pillars of personal leadership. This month, the benefits of crafting and executing a plan!


Alright, so you've taken personal responsibility for yourself and your life, you have defined your purpose with laser-like precision, and now the Personal Leadership is most definitely on course.

But with the possibility of high winds, impending icebergs and even on-ship mutiny, how can you possibly navigate the stormy seas ahead? Well, it's time to implement the third pillar of Personal Leadership. It's time to make a...


Although you have chosen your destination, it is essential to have a plan of action if you ever want your dream to be realised. And it's not enough to just keep them in your head. Planning is all about tangibility, accountability and flexibility. So let's break them down.



If something is tangible, it means that is perceptible to touch. Sure, it can be used metaphorically in regards to feelings - a tangible grief, for example, that can be clearly measured by an onlooker - but in relation to making plans, it's all about actual, physical touch. Your plans must have an impact on reality, which means:

Written targets and scheduled deadlines for the achievement of your goal. They must be detailed enough to eradicate any confusion or conjecture, but also manageable enough as to not overwhelm.



To be accountable is to take responsibility for your actions. Sound familiar? It should, because it's Pillar 1: Personal Responsibility. Writing down your plans makes you accountable to yourself.


Speaking it into existence vs. Working in private

"Should I tell people my plans? Or should keep my plans to myself?"

It can be very tempting, once you've set a goal, to tell everyone about it. Especially if (as one would hope) you are excited and inspired by it. And there are definitely benefits to this that link back to tangibility and accountability.

The more you talk about your goals, the more tangible they become. Other people know, ask questions, become interested, check in on your progress etc. and thus, you are literally speaking your plans into existence, while at the same time, holding yourself accountable to other people, as well as yourself. It ups the stakes. It puts you in a position where failure is not an option.

"Well I've told people now, so I have to do it!"

But this is risky. "What if I change my mind?" "What if an inevitable life obstacle results in a course correction?" That's a lot of backpedaling to do if things change.

Talking-the-talk is one thing, and the instant gratification that comes from revealing an exciting goal may be seductive, but ultimately it's just clutter.

Remember: your goals are part of your life, not anybody else's

And there's something to be said for getting your head down and putting in the work, by yourself, in private. There are very few overnight successes. Most times these supernovas that seemingly shot out of nowhere spent years and years of working without anybody knowing. So be wise with who you talk to.



Simply put: things change. You need to be flexible with your plans. Setting goals that are too ridged will only result in frustration if you aren't willing to adapt to the challenges that life will inevitably throw your way. Alternatively, an opportunity may present itself that could be missed if you remain immoveable in your planning. Like everything, it's a balance.


Date and Deadlines

Accompanying your detailed, written plans with target dates allows you to self-motivate. With an impending deadline, you are effectively creating a sense of urgency that jump-starts your body's chemistry into action. And the "challenge" of beating the decline can, dare I say its be fun? I mean there's nothing better than a bit of friendly competition...even if it is with yourself.


In summary 

The benefits of a written plan are as follows:

  • Written plans help you keep track of your destination and your progress.
  • Written plans help eliminate distractions.
  • Written plans serve as checkpoints for reorientation, keeping you on target and helping you get back on course.
  • Written plans allow you to measure your progress and provide a sense of accomplishment when targets are met.
  • Written plans help to overcome procrastination.

Next month, it's time to dig deep and get fired up as we explore the Fourth Pillar of Personal Leadership: Passion!

Enjoyed this article? Want to read more? Check out the O&B blog HERE.