Up close and in the distance

​You’re either accelerating or slowing down. There’s no middle ground.

If you want to maintain the forward momentum, there’s two questions you have to ask yourself. Every single day. Every week. About everything you do.

1) What’s my grand strategy and how does this fit with it?

2) What’s the next action I need to take?

Imagine a spectrum. 

At one end is tactics. These are manoeuvres that take place within a battle. Move up on their left flank but send a small unit to lure their focus to the right. 

In the middle is strategy. These are the aims of the many battles. Taking these five towns will put us in a better position to move on the capital. 

At the other end is grand strategy. This is the ultimate aim. We’re fighting this war to achieve peace.

On a personal level, your grand strategy is your endgame. And you figure it out by thinking about what you want to do, what’s valuable to others and how you want to spend your days. Every action flows from the grand strategy. Measure every move against it.

The second question is a central concept in David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

If I need to get a document from someone, a bad way for me to record that task would be like this: “File tax document.” It’s vague. Unhelpful. It doesn’t tell me what to do. So instead I’d record it like this: “Phone Paul and ask him to email me the tax document by Tuesday morning.”

These questions are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Grand strategy is about a big vision, an over-arching purpose. The next action is ultra-specific. It works at the molecular level.

Which is why they complement one another so well.

Think about a time when you were walking somewhere. You had your destination in your mind. But you also had to look at the path directly in front of you. You had to remember where you were heading whilst simultaneously avoiding all the obstacles immediately in front of you.

You have to do the same on your own journey to success. 

Fix your mind on the destination which you cannot see but you know you are moving towards. At the same time, keep your attention fixed to your immediate environment, asking yourself what you need to do next to move forward.

Every day and of every project, ask these questions:

1) What’s my grand strategy and how does this fit with it? 

2) What’s the next action I need to take?