I remember several years ago being invited to meet with Fred Smith in his home. Fred was a celebrity, and I was elated to get such an opportunity. He wasn’t just a best-selling author and internationally known business person, but a mentor to business executives like Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, and Chuck Colson. Zig Ziglar said, “Fred is the best and wisest teacher I have ever met.” And here I was being greeted by Fred at the front door of his home. He had a big smile on his face as he shook my hand and invited me into his living room.
We met at his home in Dallas because Fred was on kidney dialysis and not in good health. I believe at the time he was 89 years old and would pass away only two years later.
I recall that Fred did not appear to be slowed down by his health or the fact that he was taking dialysis twice a day. He was smiling, vibrant and he talked with enthusiasm in his voice. I will always remember that he was in the moment with me. I felt like I was the most important person in the world to him.
I was prepared for this moment. I had my Moleskine in one hand and my Monte Blanc pen in my other hand. I had written down a few questions that I wanted to be sure to ask. Immediately I could tell I wasn’t going to get to all my questions. He was a fast talker, and I was doing the best I could to keep up with him and to capture all the nuggets of wisdom that were coming from him. A decade later one thing stands out in my mind from our conversation:
Fred said, “Jeff, get a plan. Write down your plan. Get excited about the plan and then throw away the plan.”
Winners focus on the prize and never remove their eyes from the goal. They are always one step ahead of the rest. They don’t follow well-worn paths. They are pros at collecting information, synthesizing the facts, and breaking things down into a plan and then executing the plan with enthusiasm.
That’s the recipe Fred conveyed to me on what he believed was necessary to execute a plan.
How are you doing with your plans?