Recently I received a call from my husband. The conversation began with him saying, “Don’t get mad…” If you have ever heard those words from a loved one, you know what kind of dread sets in as you anxiously await the bad news. This particular call was no different. He had been in a slight fender bender – his second automobile wreck in a mere 18 months. I was furious, but tried to remain calm as he is fairly new to driving in the U.S. I asked if he had used the process outlined for him in the event he was in another accident, no matter how minor. He proceeded to tell me that he had not done anything and I was the first person he called.
I recalled his first car accident (from 18 months ago) and how afterwards, we had created a step by step process to help him in the future. In addition to creating a process and with the hopes of being as strategic as possible, we discussed plausible outcomes that follow an accident and how he could handle each one. For me, I had thought this was an excellent opportunity to think ahead and plan for the future, as the odds of a car accident repeating itself in his lifetime were not in our favor. I made sure my husband had updated insurance cards in the car, an “accident packet” with phone numbers and our written process for what to do. In my mind, my husband had all he needed to manage such a situation effectively.
Following his second accident I took away three lessons for what now lies ahead:
- You can never be too prepared. The path to become an effective strategic thinker does not end when the clock strikes 5 and you go home from work. For example, I could have talked to my husband a bit more about car insurance when we renewed the policy.
- Think and re-think possible and plausible scenarios. Time, attitude, and experience changes and thinking strategically by anticipating this ever changing world allows us to be more prepared.
- Plan. Execute. Adapt. Repeat. Thinking strategically means having a plan in place and executing the plan as needed. Change is inevitable and you must be proactive to the change, adapting, not reacting to it. Repeating the process is how we grow as strategic thinkers as there will always be a next time.
It was clear to me that day that thinking strategically is not a 9-5 job. Strategic Thinking is an ongoing responsibility that extends beyond work and into your day to day life. As you implement these few points you will be better prepared for the next time you hear the words, “Don’t be mad…” Wrecks happen. Deadlines happen. Obstacles happen. When we learn to think strategically, it makes us better prepared to control the situation, rather than the situation controlling us.