Here is the truth – I always have a Plan B. So this concept scares me to my core. But stick with me and see if you can dare to eliminate Plan B from your business planning.

The concept came to mind recently when my son was applying to medical school. In that anxious time between interviews and getting “the” letter I asked him in my most casual voice “Hey sweetie, have you given any thought to a Plan B?” I will never quite forget his look or his words. Steely eyes, strong, steady, determined voice and uncharacteristically, an immediate response: “There is no plan B.” How exactly do you reply to that? So I did my best and said, “Well okay then, what do you feel like for supper?” I know it was a mother-fail moment but the whole concept shook me.

phil knight and the meaning of plan a.

I devoured Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir. The book is a perfect example of story telling at its best. I became more loyal to his vision with every page. Then again, even way back when I was an early adopter, and in a pair of waffle trainers as soon as I could get them – so likely I was a shoe-in to read the book.

Nike’s success was not an easy road or a straight road (which brought even more appeal.) Many, many, times even with sales well past the million-dollar mark Nike was still courting bankruptcy. In fact a re-occurring conversation in his book were the countless times his wife would ask, “what will happen if this doesn’t work?” and repeatedly he responded “I don’t know.” (There should be a special shrine for the spouses of entrepreneurs.)

Phil Knight had no Plan B. His “crazy shoe idea” as he calls it, was never, not going to work. After each crushing setback and each triumph he did the same thing. He just kept re-committing to his vision. That takes back breaking, soul-sourced courage.

plan b zaps your energy.

Plan B takes so much work! The “staying up all night, what-if worries”, the “maybe I should” moments, that never generate action. The dizzying spin of “if this happens, then I will do this and if it doesn’t – then …” thinking. Honestly, it is so exhausting and such an extravagant waste of energy. The good news is we don’t have to go down this path. We can simply eliminate Plan B and illuminate Plan A. Get really clear on what Plan A means to your customer and to you. Shine the light on where you are going and dissect how it aligns with your vision. Not easy stuff, but neither is worrying all night long.

all in with plan a?

What if we put every ounce of our energy into Plan A and not take one sneaky peak at Plan B, what would happen? Seriously, what would happen?

I am going to give it a whirl. Care to throw your hand into the pile and declare: “I’m all in with Plan A”?

*This is not a paid for or solicited review of the book Shoe Dog. They usually get people like Michael Jordan to do stuff like that.