It’s Not Just Names We Forget

We’re not very good at remembering things. Most of us forget someone’s name moments after we hear it for the first, or fourth, time. In our brains continual drive towards efficiency, it creates memory prioritization that is often not in line with what we would actually want to remember.


But names, addresses, or even someone’s birthday only cost us a little social capital. Actively forgetting important things, like our strengths, our skills, and our ability to adapt cost us a whole lot more than another awkward introduction, and they happen just as often.


If you talk with someone months after being laid off, or going through a challenging situation, they are likely to remember the pain, the anxiety, and the feelings of helplessness. When pressed, they might tell you about all the things that led to the hardship; market issues, bad bosses, or miss-steps.


What we are less likely to remember is what we did well in the midst of this struggle. What we did to get back on our feet, how well we maintained composure, or the strength we found that we didn’t know we had. Just like trying to remember someone’s name in the middle of a conversation, those things we do well become less important than the context surrounding them.


I don’t remember names because I’m too wrapped up in trying figure out what to say next, how I might look, or what this person does. We don’t remember what value we created in a challenging situation because we are too wrapped up in trying to keep our head above water, avoiding the negative people, or the mistakes we made. The brain’s natural prioritization system can cost us a lot.


To remember names, we simply make them a priority. We can ask the person about the name, the origins, or how they spell it. We can relate it to someone else we know, say it out loud three or four times, or even go so far as to write it down. If it’s important to us, if the social capital is valuable enough, we can find a way.


And so too with identifying our own strengths, skills, and abilities in the midst of struggle. When we realize the value of our confidence and the capital in our courage we can start making those things a priority. We can start being better at remembering the really important strengths that we are introducing to the world as they show themselves.


Make them a priority, find out where they came from, figure out where else you apply them, and for Pete’s sake, write them down. If you don’t remember what you did well you can’t use that ability in the future. And there’s nothing more awkward than learning the same lesson another, or four other, times again.


Your Plan is Going to Fail

Things are going to change. Your projections were off. The thing you thought was going to happen, didn’t. The account that you were going to get never pans out. The job that was a sure thing, isn’t. The economy softened, the economy strengthened. What was left is now right and what was right is now left. You couldn’t predict the future.

If those things put your plan at risk, if the unexpected changes in the market, in other people, or in the hopeful anticipation of some event in the future are what will make the difference between success and failure, then your plan is likely destined for failure.

But that’s okay. Because everyone’s plan is dependent on those things. Success is most often a surprise. The path from here to there never goes as predicted.

Whether your plan outlines the strategic direction of your business, the potential direction of your career, or the future direction of your personal finances, if you want to weather these failures then your plan must be disproportionately dependent on one thing. The person or people implementing it.

Any plan that has, as its primary focal point, the unique skills, talents, and abilities of the individuals in charge of following through has a much higher chance for eventual success. When failure happens, and it will, then survival is based on those individuals’ ability to apply their talents to a new situation, to use their unique skillsets in a different way, and for their natural ability to shine when given the opportunity to be expressed in an original way.

Knowing your plan is going to fail is a great advantage. It can force you to make the success dependent on the things you actually control. More importantly, it can help build anticipation that the potential of the individual or individuals involved with implementing the plan will likely be utilized. And, most importantly, it promotes that exciting idea that, when you do succeed, it will look nothing like how you planned.