Thousands of firefighters across 10 states west of the Mississippi River are battling massive fires that have destroyed homes and displaced hundreds of people and, in some cases, continue to burn out of control… Wildfires remain active in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
~ L.A. Times, July 26, 2017
During the summer of 2017, I was fortunate enough to spend a week overlooking the beautiful Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming – one of my favorite vacation spots as a child. It was my first visit in 38 years.
As I prepared to travel, I was aware of the looming fire danger in the west. Even worried about it. Yet I failed to take any particular action to protect myself. Why?
Because I relied on hope as a strategy.
As in, “I hope there aren’t any fires close enough to be a problem.”
While I was certainly aware of the danger, and kind of had an action plan in the back of my mind, I took no particular action that could’ve really protected me in the event of a fire close at hand. Or even in the event of one just close enough to turn the area smoky. Which is, in fact, what happened.
The first day was lovely, pristine… with a clear-cut image of the Teton Mountains against a perfectly blue sky. Picture perfect.
By the next day, not so much… It looked hazy, and in a climate with only about five percent humidity, that couldn’t be the cause.
I went to the ranch’s office to inquire about the haze. They blew it off as pollen blowing through. I was skeptical. After all, there’s not an awful lot of green in that valley.
Not Just Pollen…
As the week wore on, the haze became thicker. Much of the time, the mountains that had stood so high and grand at the beginning of the week were hardly visible. Just a vague outline against the sky. Of course, that was disappointing in and of itself.
But what was most disturbing was the fact that I felt completely unprepared for the possibility that I might need supplies I didn’t have with me. Specifically, high-quality N95 masks to protect my lungs. Which I had sitting in a cabinet at home, but not with me on the trip.
By the time Thursday rolled around, I used the somewhat-spotty Internet to find out what to know and do in case of forest fires. The #1 recommendation was – drum roll please – to wear N95 masks. They specifically noted that cloth bandanas were not enough to protect your lungs. (This was the ranch’s go-to solution in case of fire, which they had had to use the previous year.)
Guests and ranch staff began to mumble about the smoke blowing in from surrounding fires in nearby Idaho and Montana. My eyes burned for four days. And who knows what damage the smoke did to my lungs?
Meanwhile, I had no backup supply of food, water, or masks… and I used ranch transportation from the airport, so I had no car to use for runs to the store, or in the event of an evacuation.
Hope Is Good, But It’s No Strategy For Your Business
As we all know, hope is not a strategy. While you can sometimes sidestep the worst, it’s certainly not a best practice, either in business or the rest of life.
If you have nagging concerns about something in the back of your mind, you owe it to yourself to think through and act on the factors you can control. It can keep you out of a boatload of trouble.
Certainly, I could’ve relieved myself of considerable anxiety had I used a real strategy instead of mere “hope.”
Is your business’s strategic plan laid out and structured to achieve your goals, or are you flying by the seat of your pants? Your answer may impact your success (or failure) more than almost anything else.
Why? Because hope is a lousy strategy, not really even worthy of being called one. And you can probably control more factors than you realize.
To your unlimited business growth,