Two weeks ago, I lost not one but two important calls to the internet going out (for a lot of good reasons, I use internet-based telephony primarily). Once was at an upscale cafe, where the internet had never died before. The other was in my business partner's wonderful large furnished high-end multiple-bedroom apartment that we use as HQ sometimes... where the internet had also never died before.
But, you see that "the internet had never died before"?
That's irrelevant. It's nonsense. It's an excuse. It's throwing your arms up and saying, "Well, what could I do? It just happened."
But you can always do something.
I got an unlimited data plan for my iPhone, and can tether it to my laptop now.
At the same time, I refuse to get on important calls on only the tethered phone, I want good internet wherever I'm at too.
2x connections. Pretty much unrelated to each other. No being at the mercy of internet outages anywhere.
No excuses. It's always your fault. Make a better backup plan.
Isn't this really about contingency plans? You had simply never thought about the "backup" plan, I imagine, in the case of the Internet flaking. It's then less a matter of making a better one and more a matter of LOOKING FOR and FINDING what can go wrong -- "Where do I need a backup plan?"
That's a valuable skill, and no doubt one that takes time and effort to develop.
Simple examples: Backup important data. Enhance personal security. Leave early for meetings.
Hard examples: Anticipating problems that could go wrong in areas you've never worked in before!
I think he was trying to get across more than just a backup plan. One of my expectations with of those I work with is that they take responsability for anything that goes wrong on their side of the deal. There's been plenty of times when something screwed up that was "out of their control" but somewhere along the line there was something they could have done to prevent it. For me the sign of a company I want to continue to do business with is that it flat out admits where it could have done better.
In the corporate environments I've seen blame is continually shifted and no one actually admits fault. That sort of attitude is silly and just doesn't work for me. If you're going to tell me there was absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent something and later I find out there was, even if it was impractical, I'll most likely drop you from my list of service providers. Though I'm more concerned with honesty and working with those who will admit when they screwed up than just about anything else.
I love Sebastians sentiment here, though most folks will resist hearing it.
When trying to pursue contigency plans throughout various aspects of life, the tendency is to organize the list by process familiarity. It's easiest to prepare for contigencies in the areas where we are familiar with potential problems. It's also an easy-task-trap.
Alternatively, I try to organize the list by importance of success, and force investigation and development of contigencies, regardless of how familiar I am with potential pitfalls.
The Internal Scorecard
I think there's a tremendous amount of misconceptions regarding achievement, productivity, creativity, ambition, work, work rate, work ethic, and so on.
So I'm thinking of publishing some analysis weekly with examples of what happened in the week, successes and failures, noteworthy events, what I'm reading and listening to, and so on. If it goes well, I can give you a picture of a workweek for me, intermix tactics and techniques, and give you practical guidance about what's working well and what isn't.
The one thing I consistently fail to account for when planning trips, especially shorter ones, is the disruption it will cause to my routine. For over a hundred days in a row, I wrote a blog post every day, did a Chinese lesson, worked on SETT, and a few other things for which I hold myself accountable.
I went to Peru for ten days, and although I started off strong, jamming in the blog post and Chinese lessons on my flights and bus ride to the Andes, once I started hiking I stopped doing those things. No real foul there, because breathing and walking had become difficult first priorities. When I got back to civilization, still in Peru, I resumed working hard on SETT, but I stopped doing Chinese lessons. I was practicing Spanish every day, though, so that made it okay. I wrote a monster blog post about Peru and sort of let myself coast on that. After all, it was a lot longer than my average post.
I got back to San Francisco and had only a week before I was going to Mexico. That week was great. I felt bad about being off schedule, so I used that as motivation to get back on. I rated three of those days as As and four as Bs, which is a pretty solid week. Next there are ten days completely missing from my schedule. I remember them, though. I worked on SETT every day while I was in Mexico, at a reduced capacity, as expected. I did a couple Chinese lessons, but was speaking Spanish, and fell behind on blog posts. Maybe I wrote four during those ten days.
Again, I got back and got back on schedule, but this time with less consistency. One day I gave myself an F and didn't even write any notes on the day. A few others I got Ds. There are As and Bs, too, but not as many as there should be.