One of my 12 Guiding Principles used to be “Always have a Plan B” which was added to the list based on my reaction to getting fired from the company that acquired my first start up. I didn’t have a Plan B so when I was fired, I was caught flat footed not knowing what to do with my career and it freaked me out. However, I’ve replaced “Always have a Plan B” with “Be OK With The Worst Case Scenario” for more than a few reasons that I thought were worth sharing.
Having a Plan B is actually a bad thing in my opinion because it distracts you from Plan A and assumes failure. If there is anything I’ve learned about what it takes to be successful, it’s that having goals and a singular focus on achieving them is key. This is what the book Think and Grow Rich is all about. Having a Plan B forces you to commit time and energy that takes you away from Plan A and inevitably makes it less likely to succeed. If you focus 100% of your efforts around your main goal, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
The other reason I’ve made the adjustment to my Guiding Principles is because not having a Plan B after getting fired was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It forced me to reevaluate my career and to make decisions that have led me to where I am now which I’m pretty damn happy with.
Instead of removing Plan B from the list altogether I think it’s important to change it to “Be OK With The Worst Case Scenario” which has been a key to most of my successful decisions over the years. Every investment I make, whether it be time or money, I always look at the worst case scenario and make sure I’m good with it. For example, if I invest money into an idea, I need to be ok with losing that money and the potential impact the investment would have on my brand, relationships, and the opportunity costs of doing something else.
To bring things down to more of a day-to-day level, here are a few more examples of worst case scenario thinking:
- When practicing being more direct in negotiations, if I decide to hold the line and not discount to this client am I ok with losing the deal?
- If I try to be a little more direct with a gatekeeper and be upfront about working with them to get through to the right person and they think I’m rude, am I ok with that? (As long as I’m not actually being rude.)
- If I decide to not play the volume game for a day and, instead of making 100 dials, take a more quality approach to see if I can improve my conversion ratios, am I ok with getting yelled at by my boss?
- If I have an issue with someone I work with and approach them in a thoughtful way, am I ok with them being irrational?
- If I try a hard close when asking for the order, am I ok with them saying “No?”
- If I ask the front desk agent of the hotel for an upgrade, am I ok with the room I have regardless of their answer?
There are plenty of other examples where this approach can be applied. I encourage you to ask yourself the question every once in a while. It’s helped me put things in perspective and take educated risks that have paid off more often than not.
P.S. DM me a tough decision you have in front of you and I’ll give you my thoughts on how I might think about it: @johnmbarrows.