In the mid 1950’s, there was this plain housewife in Defiance, Ohio named Evelyn Ryan. She lived at a time where mothers were expected to be at home. Evelyn never learned how to drive, and she never worked outside after she started having children. If it were not for her ten children, for a meagerly earning and alcoholic husband, that would have note been a big problem.
What Evelyn did in order to figure out a way to raise her children, take care of their needs, and bring extra income was impressively. She frequented American television contests. She joined as many contests as she could utilizing her natural ability with words. She wrote poems, jungles, and promotional jingles.
Without any MBA title of sort, she thought failure was not an option to help her husband earn extra. In fact, she learned about the gaming trade so well by studying the likes and dislikes of virtually every ad agency.
All her efforts paid off because she won washers and dryers, dozens of appliances, and some large cash awards, the biggest of which she used as a down payment for a house. She was not only able to raise her children well, seven of her children finished college, where two of them earned a PhD and a law degree.
Life for most of us may well be a product of circumstances, but it involves a lot of thinking and will power to be able to keep us afloat. Just like Evelyn, the challenges in life could press us into thinking for the best strategies in which we can not only cope, but succeed too.
If we look into how Mrs. Ryan achieved all this, we can say that she is a strategic thinker. According to John Maxwell, strategic thinking is that ability to plan, become more efficient, maximize strengths, and find the most direct path toward achieving any objective.
She first broke down the issues in her life and came up with a novel solution to use her talent. She figured out, she can put her ability to use and she started somewhere—TV contests. It is true that everyone has special abilities that when put to good use, it will yield benefits.
She also asked why before she asked how. She knew that there was lack in the family and she had to do something. But, it was love for her children that prompted her to action. What’s your motivation? What move you? Is it your first million, car, or house? Your motivation can lead you to your strategy in starting, continuing forward, or even stopping things that never really yield results.
She reviewed and maximized her resources. She knew she was a writer and she didn’t stop learning the trade until she’s the best in it. She studied promo labels and the competitions she will join. She made use of her time very well, too.
Lastly, she kept repeating the process. In short, she did not give up. Olan Hendrix said, “strategic thinking is like showering, keep it doing.” As she kept joining, she was practicing (or perfecting) her craft. As she kept practicing, she was winning.
The value of a good strategy is undeniably beneficial. Whether we are working in government, in private practice, or just like in the case of Mrs. Ryan, at home, we can think and act strategically to achieve our goals in life.
While big picture thinking helps us visualize our bigger goals or agenda in life, strategic thinking paves the way to put in reality and in context those goals.
I believe you can do this, too!
Why don’t you get a paper right now and try to scribble your big picture goals, an inventory of your talent and skills, and plan out your strategies to match your goals and your skills?
Share your outputs/ideas, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org