“I don’t even know how I lost,” said a bewildered Adonis Creed.
“Your mind wasn’t right,” was Rocky’s answer in the movie Creed II. “And your natural style won’t work with a guy that big.”
I have thought a lot about these words, and they have echoed in my mind and soul many times since watching the movie.
Creed was defeated in his first fight against Drago—not only defeated, but knocked out. Even so, he officially won the fight because his opponent was disqualified. In spite of everything, Rocky’s words are not ones of defeat. He does not say, “You will never succeed.” He simply says, “Your natural style won’t work against a guy that big.”
In other words, in order to achieve big, you will need something more than talent. As a matter of fact, if your talent is enough to win the battle you are in, that battle is too small. If your talent is enough to achieve your dreams, your dreams are too trivial. A great life is never achieved by talent alone; it always requires something else, something more. That something is strategy.
Strategy makes the difference between wishing and achieving. It is the bridge between possibility and reality. Often, we use strategy when we play board games—or any game, for that matter. The moment we sit down, we are thinking about the strategy that we are going to use. For example, if we are playing Monopoly, we know we want to get Boardwalk and Park Place. Or we plan to buy the railroads or utilities. If we are playing Risk, depending on what territories we get, we start thinking about how to win the war.
What amazes me the most is that, while we think about strategy for Monopoly, we don´t think about strategy to reach our dreams and live our greatest story. While we think about strategy to win Risk, we don’t think about strategy to win the war to achieve our goals and satisfy our deepest longings.
We get too serious about games but not serious enough about life. When I started thinking about this, one line burned inside me that I couldn’t take out of my head or my heart: Never go to war without a strategy.
STRATEGY & TALENT
The greatest wars are not won with talent alone. Both wisdom and strategy are needed. A strategy is nothing more than thought-out steps that will lead you to your desired end. Nothing happens until we have the courage to begin. We need courage to start, but we need wisdom to finish. To get better and greater results, we need to become wiser. The more wisdom we get, the easier it is to think about strategy and to develop it.
So, my question to you is, Do you have a strategy to achieve what is truly important to you?
The main problem that we have is not that our dreams are too big, but that our strategy is too small—or perhaps we don’t even have one. If you are like me, you probably were never taught to think about strategy. You may have been taught good principles, or good manners, but strategy may have never been part of the conversation.
STRATEGY & HARD WORK
We have hopes and dreams and fire in our hearts for something that we want to achieve, but most of the time we don’t even know where to begin—how to cross the bridge that would take us to our most fulfilling lives. Most of us believe that success comes from working hard, and in a certain way it does, but I know a lot of people who have worked really hard all their lives and never reached what they were aiming for.
They may have had a good life—and that’s a good thing—but when you realize that you were created by a great God, you can’t be satisfied with a good life. You were created for a great life. You were placed on this earth for a bigger purpose than just having a good life. This bigger purpose is not achieved by simply working hard. You must work smart.
My friend Emerson is an amazing leader who moved from LA to Mexico City to start the Mexico City campus of Mosaic Church. I was there on launch day, which was at the end of a two- or three-day conference, and there were about 600 people at the conference. Less than a year later, he planned another conference, and this time, the auditorium where the conference was to be held had a capacity of 1,200, and the room was filled to capacity.
One of the days of the conference, as we were walking to have lunch, I asked him, “What was the difference between last year’s conference and this one?”
I will never forget his response. It was so simple, yet so clear.
“I needed a lot more strategy,” he said.
Emerson was able to double the size of his conference with the right strategy.
STRATEGY & HARMONY
Often, we believe that harmony is the opposite of war. Without war there cannot be harmony. Everything you are longing for is on the other side of a war, and the only way to win that war is with strategy.
As I was reading the story of Joshua, I noticed the moment in the story at which he is in front of the walled city of Jericho. He was a man of war, and the Israelites were people of war. They had fought countless wars to get to that point. They could have gone directly to battle, but they didn’t. Instead, they waited until they had a strategy, and once they did, they charged forward with everything that they had and conquered the city.
Too often we charge forward into the battle for our dreams, but we go blindly without a strategy. We may have strength to fight, we may even have the skill to fight, but without the right strategy, we don’t know how to use our strengths, and we could even be limiting our skills. The moment we develop a strategy is like turning on a light that illuminates the path toward our goals and aspirations. With strategy we are no longer fighting blindly, but fighting effectively. Now we know where to use our strength and how to apply our skills.
STRATEGY & TRAINING
It has been said that ten thousand hours of practice make one an elite person in any field that they may practice. The greatest samurai who ever lived, Miyamoto Musashi, said, “A thousand days of training to develop, ten thousand days of training to polish.”
When we hear of Olympic athletes who have practiced 10,000 hours or more, we know they have sacrificed everything to get to where they are, just to earn the opportunity to compete. The talent line that separates Olympians is so thin that it is almost imperceptible. What really makes the difference between who wins and who loses is not only talent, but strategy. A person with the right strategy can beat a person who relies on talent alone.
If we are able to develop a mindset of strategy, there are no limits to what we can become or achieve. A person with a strategy will always be ahead of a person without one. I have heard that a problem well defined is a problem half solved. I wish I could say that a strategy well defined is a goal half reached, but there is so much more that needs to be done. That being said, without a well-defined strategy, we may never reach our goals.
I choose to believe that, with the right strategy, anybody can reach any dream. We just need to know what strategy to use. When we develop that strategy, it is like we are building the bridge that will take us to a land where those goals are achieved and those dreams are fulfilled. The steps that you will find on the bridge will not only take you straight to your destination but also allow you to climb to a higher elevation.
STRATEGY & SECURITY
Our strategy should direct our daily steps. If you ever lack clarity, and you don’t know how or where to get it, may I remind you that God is the greatest strategist ever, and He is always ready to give us one. He should always have the final word on what strategy we use and how we use it.
When it comes to any field in life, never underestimate the difference that strategy can make in your life and in the lives of others. From now on, in everything that is to come, always ask the question, What’s my strategy?
It is easy to live a secure life, but a secure life doesn’t reach big dreams because the greater the dream the greater the battle, our courage to fight those great battles has to be greater than the battles themselves. However, in order to win those battles, we will need a wise, well-thought-out strategy. And this is the main reason why so many of us do not fulfill our dreams and do not reach our goals. It is not because the lack of talent or skills, but because of a lack of wisdom.
Think about strategy, meditate about strategy, pray about strategy. Once you have done all this, stand up and fight for your dreams and goals. Nobody else can reach them for you. People can help you, God can make a way where there is no way but you are still going to have to do some fighting. And you are going to have to do some walking.
It is never too late to cross the bridge from possibility to reality, never too late to reach your dreams or to achieve your goals. Just because it didn’t happen yesterday doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it tomorrow. That’s the beauty of strategy. When you use it, everything is possible—even things you may have considered impossible.
Just like in the movie Creed II, nobody can deny that Creed trained hard and worked hard for the first match. Even though he was defeated, he did not stop fighting for his dreams. He went into the ring again, and this time around he was victorious. He trained as hard as he did before, but he trained differently. His effort didn’t change, but his strategy did.
Don’t surrender in the fight for your dreams just because you were defeated in the past. Remember that the pain of remorse is always worse than the pain of defeat. So, get wisdom, develop a strategy and fight for your dreams as if your live depends on it … because it does.
Execution makes goals reachable and dreams achievable. It’s important to have a date of action for each step of the plan. One of the most valuable teachings I’ve received from Sam Chand is the three words that must always accompany execution: “Who’s doing what by when?” Perhaps you’ve been stuck in a moment, but as you start walking, that single moment in time will no longer keep you hostage. If we are not willing and committed to walk, planning is worthless.
Having a deadline for the execution of our plan is the best way to guarantee its fulfillment. Nowadays people say that pressure is not good. We all live under pressure, but to some extent, pressure is good for execution. Edwin Louis Cole used to say about guitar strings that a lot of pressure can break a string, but a little bit of pressure tunes the string. In the same way, we need to have a little bit of pressure to set our plan into motion.
When we’re talking about execution, my greatest recommendation is to look for a coach or a person who can hold us accountable. You will be surprised to see how much you can achieve when you have someone who can put pressure on you. It is said that a goal is only a dream until it has a deadline. The problem is that, when we set the limits, we will always push them further because we don’t have to report to anyone about the pursuit of our dreams.
It’s important to have a unified team that fights to reach the goals and dreams of the organization. Often, it’s those people who give us wings to fly and reach the sky. In the personal level, it’s a bit more difficult, because you won’t always have a team focused on your dreams; in those situations, the wind beneath your wings comes from your responsibility. At the end of time, what you achieved or did not reach, will be your responsibility. In your last breath, you won’t be able to blame someone else for not having reached your dreams.
This article was extracted from Issue 5 (Spring 2021) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.
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