The motivation for today’s blog came from a conversation I had with my Dad where I caught myself applying IT principles to his life in an attempt to give him some advice… about his non-IT related problems. Before you yell ‘nerd alert!’ and move on to something else, hear me out. I think I’m on to something.
For a quick bit of background – I specialise in End User Technology and as a consultant a large part of what I do is help businesses define their Desktop Strategy. It’s not an exact science but it’s essentially the process of learning about how the business operates, how much money, what assets and what resourses they have at their disposal, adding a large measure of industry knowledge and trends and then formalising an actual plan, or strategy, for how they can get the perfect balance of higher ROI, lower TCO, some future-proofing and happy, and thus by extention, productive users. This is a gross over-simplification but sufficient for our purposes. And I don’t really want to talk about Desktop Strategy, I want to talk about Life Strategy.
defines ‘Strategy’ as “the science or art of combining and employing the means of war in planning and directing large military movements and operations.” At first I skipped over this definition until I landed on this one: “A plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world.” and thought – that’s more relevant to what I want to talk about. But then on second thought I realised that I actually like the first definition better.
After all, life is more like war. We don’t only have specific goals or results we want to achieve – it’s far more complex than that. We never know what the enemy is going to throw our way – we have to think on our feet, change tactics on the fly and sometimes go backwards in order to move forwards.
Initially, I thought of my Dad as a ‘business’. I know how he operates, how much money he has, the assets and resources at his disposal, and I know a few things about the world, too. With that I gave him some straight advice about what I would do about one of problems in his life if I were in his shoes. That’s a mini-strategy that targetted a single problem, which is kind of what the second definition of strategy from above eludes to. But you know that I like the war one better.
Using the war analogy, the above piece of advice is really just a small military operation that is a strategic move in the overall war. I only gave him that specific advice because I know about some of the other goals he has and so I suggested doing things in a certain way so that it would complement his future plans. And now we’re talking strategy!
The last bit of advice I gave him was that he should get a big wall planner/calendar to put up in a room. This room will then, of course, become known as a war room from which he can plan out more military operations and see the progress he is making in his own war. I wasn’t so dramatic with him, though. The exact words I used were: “the trick is to break everything down into smaller pieces so it’s easier to work on, but never lose sight of the bigger picture or you will lose your way.”
They say a war has no winners, only losers. However, in the war on life there are both winners and losers. If you perpetually complain about the problems in your life yet do absolutely nothing to correct them, then I’m sorry but you’re a loser. But fret not, it is very easy to become a winner. The smallest positive action, the tiniest tactical move, can set you on your way and in my book, as long as you actually try you’re already winning.