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How Proactive Planning Benefits Leaders


Get Proactive & Stop Being So Reactive


Do you ever feel like you're constantly putting out fires? There's always a problem. Your days never go as planned because so many urgent emergencies pop up all throughout the day. If you feel that way, you're not alone. It's a common problem for managers, but it's not something you have to live with. You don't have to accept that the way it is, is the only way it could ever be. It all boils down to the difference between being more proactive versus being forced to be reactive.

I think that the major difference here comes down to planning. To become more proactive, you have to plan and then train others so that they can react to those emergencies. You have to plan so that you'll know what to do and you'll have a playbook or a process for handling these situations that come up over and over again. You have to plan so that you can remember what your real priorities, what your real focus is, so that the other things that pop up aren't merely distractions that in hindsight, weren't nearly as important as they seemed in the moment.

The more planful for you are, the more productive you can be, the more effective you'll be as a leader. This is true in my gardening, too. I've learned a lot of lessons about being more planful by being a good gardener.

For me, even though I live in Missouri, where we do have four seasons, gardening is an all year activity. If I'm not planting, I'm harvesting, if I'm not harvesting, I'm planning in between the planning and the planting and the harvesting, there's the the lessons learned phase where I'm thinking about what I can do better and differently in years to come. It's a process of continual improvement and I really enjoy the planning process. I love looking through seed catalogs and reading books and being in gardening forums where I can get tips and ideas from other people. To me that that's part of the fun of this particular hobby.

It's part of a being proactive, it is thinking and planning so that I don't have to be reactive later on solving problems that could have been avoided. And it's very much about getting as much as I possibly can, as much enjoyment as well as as much outproduce product as I can at the end of the season.

For me, planning includes things like, "what's the best way to set up my soaker hoses? How should I position the plants relative one to the next so that they are getting the optimal amount of light and the same amount of water and and not encroaching on each other because one's vining and the other isn't? What's the best way to shade something like these poor little onion plants that I need to plant out in the sun? But how could I erect some pallets behind them that would partially shade them and keep them separate from what's on the other side of that pallet, which happens to be a vining plant?"

I'm thinking about all these things in creating schematics and ordering seeds and beginning to plant for seedlings all throughout the year. And as I do that, I'm also thinking about what are the best ways that I can get the most out of each and every plant year to year.

You've probably heard me talk in previous videos about the Marigolds. I plant these in the sides of the straw bales. The vegetables and herbs are growing out of the top, but I plant marigolds on the sides. I do that for two reasons. First of all, they're very hardy and healthy, they grow without much effort, but also because marigolds are repellent to deer and rabbits. And even though my straw bale garden sits on a gravel bed in front of my outbuilding and the deer don't really like to walk on gravel, I figure if they ever get hungry enough, they might still come into the garden. So I want this extra layer of protection and I can beautify the garden.

So I plan ahead and I plant Marigold in the sides of the straw bales and then year to year, I don't have to go buy seeds because I collect the heads of the marigolds at the end of the season and then throughout the winter when I've got a few minutes spare here or there, I go ahead and take the seeds out of those heads and I lay them all out to dry, so that when it's time to plant again in the spring, I have thousands and thousands of seeds.

Not only do I plant these Marigold seeds in all of the sides of all 60 of my straw bales, but I plant them around the property elsewhere. I give them away to neighbors and friends. I've got more than enough marigold seeds and that works just fine.

Everybody seems to enjoy receiving those and with the proper planning and the protection, I'm also able to get a really good harvest. My plants are healthy and they produce more than any garden I've ever had. I do love up my plants. I give them the proper supports. I check on them every day that I'm in town. I look out for any bugs that might have come along or I pluck off the leaves that might have a few brown spots like you see here on these on these black peppers.

And I just am conscious of what the plants need in order to remain healthy. My plants are so healthy that there are days in the summer when I can barely keep up, when a single day's harvest looks like this, it means I'm going to have to can pickles. It means I need to give away some cucumbers because there's only so much cucumber salad you can eat and freezing it and having cucumber soup. Well, there again, there's only so much of that you can do.

It means that I have to think ahead of time. Who wants what? And how am I going to be able to use this so we don't have any waste? And I put up lots of jars of spaghetti sauce and I make canned tomatoes and I have created every possible kind of jam you can imagine. In fact, if you're ever looking for some recipes for tomato jam, I've got a few good ones for you there. But it means that when you have a bumper crop you're never left wanting, you can use what you need today. You can trade for what you need from someone else, and you can have plenty stored away for the future.

And we do use everything. I even use tomato peels. I dry them in a dehydrator and then I grind them into tomato seasoning. It's just, get a bottle, it's nothing but tomato powder, and it's really good for soups or stews or even putting in a little bit of that into a can of Campbell's Soup adds a lot of depth and flavor. So we look to use everything and to be able to plan ahead so that we get the most that we possibly can from every single part of the garden.