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Gail Blanke: Forget Plan B

You guys know Melanie Weinberger, who won the 2012 Austin Start-up Weekend with her FitSteady business idea, and more recently founded Wellshift, an online hub for corporate wellness activities.


Melanie is a serial entrepreneur, relentless optimistic, don’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of person. Her ideas and spirit are uplifting and contagious. So I listen to everything she says. She recently turned me on to this post by NYC life coach, Gail Blanke.


Here’s Gail’s post, which originally ran here.


“So what’s your fall back position? What’s Plan B??” That’s somebody asking you – or me – what we plan to do if the game-changing, best-idea-this-lifetime we’re out tomake happen…doesn’t work. Wait, are you kidding?? “Fall back position”?? “Plan B”??” “Plan A” doesn’t work??


What if President Kennedy had added at the end of his historic 1962 declaration, “We’re going to send a man to the moon and bring him back safely before the end of this decade…”  “But, of course, if that doesn’t work, here’s our ‘fall back’ position…”  We probably still wouldn’t have gotten there.


Or, what if General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary forces in World War II, had said to his troops as he gave the go-ahead for the massive invasion of Europe called Operation Overlord, “And look, if this doesn’t work, here’s a back-up plan….” instead of exhorting, no  commanding them, to “be brave,”  to show “total devotion to your duty” and “accept nothing less than victory!”  Would they have made that harrowing but brilliantly successful landing on the beaches of Normandy? I don’t even want to think about it… And just for the record, I bet if someone had asked him what his “Plan B” was, he’d have said sharply, “There is no plan B.”


When you decide to execute your own vision, your own version of what I call “jumping off the diving board and inventing the water on the way down,” that gut-wrenching leap of faith with no net, you might be tempted to say to your team – or your spouse – or yourself – “Hey, not to worry, I’m polishing up ‘Plan B’…ya know, just in case…”


And listen, some people think that’s smart. But is it? “Plan B” distracts from “Plan A.” The thinking behind “Plan B” is based on the possibility that the totally awesome “Plan A” will fail. “Plan B” becomes the soft landing. (Never mind that it’s in the wrong place…)  You can relax. But when you relax, your resolve, your drive and your “do or die” spirit all go out the window. And that won’t get you to the moon…or on the beach.


Here’s the thing: When you’re out to change the paradigm, break the mold or reinvent the future, there’s absolutely no way to know  at the beginning – how it’s all going to turn out at the end. You’re not supposed to. So don’t make a “Plan B.” “Plan B” becomes an excuse to shy away from fear so you can be “comfortable” in taking a risk. But “comfort” doesn’t drive greatness. “Comfort” doesn’t create miraculous “landings” on a moon or on a beach. “Comfort” doesn’t create breakthrough cures or breakthrough profits or even breakthrough, once-in-a-lifetime love affairs…  If you’re not uncomfortable, not afraid – you haven’t pushed yourself far enough, you haven’t dreamed big enough…and you certainly haven’t risked enough.


Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”


The poet Göethe wrote, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, thenProvidence moves too…” I think Ike would agree. So would JFK…


So forget “Plan B.” Nail Plan “A.”


The water will be there.

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