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Anticipating the ricochet.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Minnesota, but I love Hockey.  It is fast paced, aggressive and full of suspense.  When you study the great player Wayne Gretzky, you see his genius.  He focused on anticipating the ricochet vs. chasing the puck with the pack.  He earned a place in the hall of fame because he made a career of playing his game with this keen eye.

I think it parallels our lives today.  The pace is increasing, the demands are taxing, and we always have to be on our game.  Some get focused on the task at hand and stay with the pack.  Others take care to step back, if even for a moment, to be ready to capture the opportunity.

They are anticipating the next move so they are in a position to optimize their goals.  It’s a life skill that needs discipline and focus…but the payoff is amazing.

In the business world, we take time to think about our strategic goals, marketplace outlook, and our ability to optimize the results.  Funny how powerful the discussion is when you focus on the “range of possible” before you finalize your plan.

It expands the way you think.  You see things differently and end up with better solutions.  It also makes you more nimble since you have spent time seeing the full range of options well ahead of time.  It allows you to be more proactive because you see the signs which in turn,  allows you to respond, make adjustments or accelerate your plan. It is this rich conversation and discovery that makes it possible to anticipate the ricochet.

Now, it doesn’t anticipate everything but it catches 85%.  If you’ve done the planning right the only difference between your planning and the reality should be the pace.  And because you took the time to visualize and articulate the possibilities, you are better prepared to meet the opportunity faster because you see it coming.  You can read the ricochet.

The same applies in how we approach our careers.  We’ve all seen changes in leadership, strategic direction, economic pressures and technology that altered the course of our plan.  However, if we’ve taken the time to really get grounded…in ourselves so we understand our gifts/talents, in knowing our goals as well as our boundaries, and the environments and situations that allow us to do the best work, we too can anticipate the ricochet. 

This discipline of visualizing all the ways to meet your goals gives you options.   It makes you feel less “trapped” and allows you to be more intentional in managing the process because you are ahead of the game.

It is the same life skill that Wayne Gretzky practiced over and over again.  We too can practice it until it becomes second nature the way you do things in your personal and professional life.  Make scenario planning part of your life discipline.  It ensures you leave “nothing to chance” and puts you in a position to optimize the outcome by anticipating the ricochet.

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