“I pity the fool,” said the eloquent Mr. T, a phrase he might have applied to anyone that moves through life without a strategy.
Strategy isn’t just for winning wars, wrangling sales, or pitchforking political adversaries (though it can and should do all of those things). As an “orientation toward success,” strategy’s useful in any uncertain competitive endeavor. Anything with an adversary or a particularly tough environment—you can strategize for. The list of potential outlets is wide and varied.
Strategy is for weight-loss.
Strategy is for learning.
Strategy is for races.
Strategy is for games.
Strategy is for romance.
Strategy is for retirement.
Strategy is for parenting.
Strategy is for thinking.
Strategy is for everyone.
If you find yourself locked in competition with an adversary, and momentarily recognize that you don’t have a strategy, then you’re at the mercy of anyone who does. It doesn’t matter if you think you need one or not, what matters is whether your opponent does, and whether or not theirs is superior.
Strategy’s always there. Because humans are always competing, everyone should have a strategy, whether they know it or not.
The biggest problem in strategy-making is the illusion that it has taken place. (To paraphrase another sentiment with multiple origin stories). Simple mindfulness and intention is important in strategy. The basic act of noticing the presence or absence of your own orientation toward success matters, whatever the stakes may be.
I’ve noticed this the most in my own personal life. You can float along, drift along, coast, and with some luck, you may get to where you’d like to be. The truth is you’re much more likely to hit your mark if you take just a bit of time to aim.
Let’s consider happiness. Something as basic as the human desire to be happy. Everyone has a different definition of “happy,” so that’s not the point. But for me, one surefire way to smile is to go ski with my family. It’s the most fun we can have while doing something together (and it doesn’t hurt that it takes place in breathtaking scenery).
When it comes to this pathway to happiness, my orientation toward success is simple. It’s to maximize our number of ski days. Last season we skied 22 days together, this year we’ll aim to top 30. So, if you’re wondering—yeah, I’ve got a strategy to increase our family’s happiness in a measureable way.
What can you say about someone that doesn’t have a strategy for happiness?
Pity the fool.