Monday, October 4, 2010

Backup Plan, "Just In Case" (YUCK!)

I want to revisit a topic I wrote about in the past. I've been asked my opinion on the subject so often lately, I thought I'd reopen the debate.

Should we have a backup plan... 
"just in case?"

My opinion: NO! I absolutely believe backup plans hurt our progress, and don't allow us to fully reach our potential. When we have backup plans, we know in the back of our minds, "I have a safety net to fall into just in case I don't reach my goal..." which ironically leads to not reaching our goals. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Many parents ask about college, and whether or not this is a backup plan. College, in my opinion, isn't a net at 18 years old, but could be at 20. What if, for example, I've been offered a once in a lifetime career opportunity during my junior year in college. Should I take the job or stay in school and graduate, receiving my degree (for future safety)? 

How about those who are passionate about pursuing a dream job, but have been told to make sure they have something to fall back on... "just in case?" If we have the mindset of protecting ourselves from potential failure, we're going to fail. We're predetermining our outcome, simply by thinking about "just in case." We're unconsciously and unknowingly building a ceiling of possibility... meaning, we're limiting our potential by allowing a safety net to catch us if we fall. When we allow IF to enter our plan, it will dominate our actions. 

The backup plan is a survival instinct. We try to protect ourselves from the inevitable pain that failure brings. Ironically, it's this protection that makes us fall. When we "protect," we bring fear into the picture. When we fear, we hesitate. When we hesitate, we miss opportunity. When we miss opportunity, we fall short. 

Without the backup plan, we gain a sense of "passionate desperation" and intense focus. It's this focus that allows the necessary concentration to create the blueprint of success. We no longer feel the need to protect from failure, which takes the fear completely out of our path. Without fear, we gain the ability to act with 100% passion and love for our goal. How can we possibly go wrong with that equation? Even if we don't attain, at least we acted fearlessly.

Long story short: Backup plans = fear of failure. Fear destroys all potential. Therefore, no backup plans.

Counterintuitive, yes... so what! 


Bendigo said...

I think we might have to agree to disagree on this point. While I agree with the concept in general I have to say that no backup plan at 18 and single without responsibility to anybody but yourself is ok. On the other hand when you have a family who relies on you a backup plan is essential. Simply because we don't control our environment. I can't decide if the business I work for decides to lay me off. I can't decide if the workforce isn't able to facilitate my "dream". While I firmly believe in setting my goals at the top of the mountain I also believe that I HAVE to ensure that those who expect me to provide are indeed provided for. The young carefree side of me wants to go out and do do do...The father side of me knows that at the end of the day life can sometimes give you a flat tire. It never hurts to have a spare ......

Kristin said...

Another thought to the whole college as a back up plan theory is the commitment a player makes to his/her college coach. For example a player that is brought in on a hefty scholarship is getting a commitment from the school and in turn should be giving a commitment to the school. Yes scholarships are year to year however, but a player who has the ability to turn pro while in college is certainly going to be getting a large chunk of change. He/she ought to consider the people that helped him/her get there and I would assume the college coach would fall into that picture. Integrity plays a key role here, if a coach is throwing a lot of money your way and you are able to travel the country, play the best courses, have 2-3 years of training at the highest level and then all of a sudden leave to follow your dream, in my humble opinion that is just not right. Just another twist to this topic.

Rettakat said...


There have been quite a few times when I have written on a topic, an idea, a principle that I am trying to learn... and someone would offer an objection citing a small exception. A scenario that would only cover a small minority of folks.

And they might even have a valid point, for that small segment of people. But that didn't invalidate the bigger principle that I was trying to talk about.

It's just not possible, in one blog post, to cover ALL contingencies and exceptions.

Having said that... I still am not sure about "never" having a back-up plan.

I TOTALLY see the logic. And even can agree. Until I read what Bendigo offered.

And in THAT situation... I have to wonder if one size does NOT fit all??

Or... does that principle still apply, no matter the specific situation, that if you have a back-up plan, it increases the likelihood of failure???
Wasn't it Hernando Cortez that ordered his wooden ships to be burned, so there would be no possibility of retreat? So with only a small contingent of men, he conquered the Aztec nation. The rightness of his action to conquer is not the point here; it's the total commitment that stands out.

Still thinking.... :-)


Dayne Gingrich said...

"It's the total commitment that stands out." -Loretta


I agree with all three of you. This is such a difficult topic, which is why I wrote about it again. My inbox is flooded with responses, questions, and disagreements.

I know, from my personal experience... if I would've stayed in my former job, my current career WOULD NOT have happened. I had to quit my other job in order to 100% commit to my passion career.

I didn't have kids yet, but I did have a wife and many bills that depended on my cash flow.

There are definitely a ton of grey areas here, but this is why it's so interesting to talk about.

Thank you for such thoughtful responses.