Start At Success To Get To The Beginning

 A Critical Doer is committed to thinking and acting 


Start at success to get to the beginning…is this good Critical Doer advice or a line from Dr. Seuss?  As much as Dr. Seuss, one of the greatest philosophers in the history of philosophizing, would like to take credit it’s my line and it’s actually good advice.

Many times when we’re faced with a challenge, trying to figure out where to start can be the hardest part (if you haven’t read my previous posts on “making the problem bigger” and “making the problem smaller” now’s a great time).  In fact, the act of turning a problem into a pathway and then into a plan can be so mentally taxing that it deters many from even trying to create an opportunity or solve a problem.  If you fit into this category…fear not, help is one the way!

As much as we pass along starting at the beginning as wisdom, it’s often too ambiguous for planning.  Rather than starting at the beginning and planning your way to success, try starting at success and planning your way backwards to the beginning.

With success as the starting point, you have a clearly defined and unambiguous mental anchor where the details that constitute “how” can be attached.  Try this and you’ll agree with me that starting at the end and planning backwards will immediately increase your focus and get you on the path to progress.

A question that will further focus your thinking is “what statements have to be true to accomplish my goal?”  A technique to put your thinking in writing and give you a graphic depiction that may help better conceptualize your thinking is use of a fishbone diagram.  Here is an example of a fishbone diagram.

fishbome diagram


In this very simple example, you can see the problem of mis-shipped products broken down into a series of potential causes that can also be classified as statements that must be true.  The smaller lines on each fishbone represent how to make the larger statements true.

Thinking through a problem this way can illuminate where you have deficiencies in training, inefficiencies in processes, inadequate resources, or on the positive side where you are in a good position to capitalize on an opportunity because you can make all the statements true with available resources.

Your challenge is to look for an opportunity at home or work to take a fresh look at a situation that has left you struggling to get out of the starting gate.  Rather than start at the beginning where it can be murky and confusing, start at the end where the vision is clear and plan your way backward to the beginning.  In the process, you’ll figure out what has to be true and how to make it true in order to accomplish your goal.

Be thoughtful…be methodical…be busy…and be successful.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: June 24, 2015 — 9:19 am