The Bridge is Out

The bridge is out near my house. It is under construction and closed until October! Now, summer road construction is nothing new in Minnesota (where we only have two seasons; winter and road construction! Rim shot!), but this one is extremely inconvenient, as it cuts me off from the on-ramp to 394, a major artery in the highway system in the Twin Cities and my entrance into pretty much anywhere I might be going. Now I have to go miles out of my way, along with thousands of other motorists, and it adds 10 minutes of drive time everywhere I go.

Here is the good news; I knew it was coming, I knew where the roadblock would be, and I was able to proactively make plans to avoid it. A potential major issue is now only a minor frustration and inconvenience. Obstacles are going to come up. Roadblocks will be put in your way. The key to minimizing them, or avoiding altogether, is to know where they are going to be so you can plan an alternate route.

In coaching parlance, this is known as identifying Critical Constraints, and it comes into play in the goal-setting process. Goals are not reached simply because they are made; a plan to achieve them needs to be put in place, and part of that plan needs to be identifying the critical constraints that may hold you back. No goal is ever achieved perfectly and without incident (and if it is, it was probably too easy a goal in the first place). Customers, competition, industry trends, government regulations, employees, technology, and processes can all be the cause of constraints in your path to success. There will always be issues that trip you up and hold you back, and the sooner you can identify what they are, the sooner you can change your plans to avoid or minimize them.

The most successful companies and individuals are those who have the foresight to look into the future and identify the issues that could hold them back. When setting their goals and making plans, they note everything that could go wrong. . . . and make plans in case they do go wrong. This is not a negative or fatalistic view of things; it is simply being proactive. Successful businesses and individuals do not expect things to go wrong (that would be operating in a mindset of fear, which is not a characteristic of success), but they are prepared for when things do.

So set your goals and make a solid plan. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Note where your constraints may come from, identify the roadblocks that are already in the way, and build a plan to navigate around them. Be proactive in planning for the future and setting the course to avoid or minimize the delays in your path. Determine what could go wrong, and more importantly, determine how to solve it before it happens. Simply put, plan ahead for the extra 10-minute delay. . . . or avoid road construction altogether and rely on Amazon Prime and Uber Eats.

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