The Discipline of Strategy
My family is moving. We are buying a house and selling our house. Although the move is only 35 minutes apart the process demands a strategy. Buying a house demands a strategy, and selling a house demands a different strategy; the two are related (like two sides of the same piece of paper) but they are very different (like two sides of the same piece of paper).Being a buyer places one in the mindset of getting more for less, while being a seller places the mindset into receiving more, period. This process calls upon all of the organizational, interpersonal, and financial skills that one has accumulated over a lifetime in order to maintain sanity, family peace, and financial reward that are challenged by this exchange. I know that many of you can relate to this stressful process.
My wife and I have been as much involved in creating our strategy for happiness through this time as we have been committed to the results. Every time we set out for a day of house hunting, with or without our real estate professional, we revisit our purpose for moving, our family needs, and our financial limits; in short, we review our goals and objectives.
This is not a seat-of-the-pants formula, but rather a kind of discipline. We want the end to not only justify the means but also to reflect the result of quality means. We want to enjoy each other throughout the process, but especially to have no regrets when we finish the ordeal. In other words we want the experience to be real, honest and productive. This is our strategy.
Clearly everything that we do personally and professionally can benefit from such a strategy. As a church musician we are challenged to maintain personal relationships while still producing an effective result. We wish to affect the change of lives in a positive way, to enhance the aesthetic well being of our music members, and to do all of this without pushing unrealistically, demanding unmercifully, or shining the light on ourselves unnecessarily. To draw again from the house analogy we need to enjoy each other throughout the preparation of music, and to have no regrets (that would mean at the end of preparation we still want to move forward).
We are currently waiting for our purchase offers to be processed. We are preparing our home for sale, thinning out items that prospective buyers will see, and staging the home for internet photography. Getting to this point has been the result of hours of internet shopping, travelling to view homes, packing boxes in the thinning mode, and preparing ourselves for the drama of both buying and selling.
I have done annual planning for my music programs, in the context of education, church, and community, for years, and in each cycle the strategic planning skills of this phase are invaluable. However, the skills are not the result of a “kiss of the muse.” It is hard work and concentrated knowledge-based work.
By knowledge-based I mean it takes some formal training. I recommend that one search the literature available about planning. One word of caution is that there is a great deal of “quick fix” solutions on the market. In contrast, look for the Stephen Covey and Peter Drucker levels of treatises.
The notion of strategic planning is following the truth that understanding one’s task is the result of hard work, of thinking. Peter Drucker always reminded his students that “thinking is both hard work and boring, so most people don’t pursue the discipline to a meaningful extent.” Therefore, to cite the popular financial author, Dave Ramsey, “live like no one else lives, so that you can live like no one else lives.”
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