Mark Blasini


Worrying vs. anticipating


A few posts ago, I wrote about how assessing risk and danger is the core of strategic planning. Effective plans must be guided by the risks - by avoiding or managing the risks - and not simply the rewards, for it's in dealing with the risks that one is in a position to actually enjoy the rewards.

This way of thinking might lead one to believe that what I'm saying is that effective planning should be led more by fear and worry rather than by determination and fearlessness. That if you are constantly focused on the dangers and risks, your plan will never really allow you to achieve anything bold or ambitious.

It's on this point that I would like to make a distinction between worrying and anticipating. Worrying, at its core, implies a feeling of uncertainty not over whether something will happen, but that over one's ability to handle that thing happening. What one is worried about is not a bad event - losing money in the stock market, someone's injury or death - but the result of the bad of event - i.e. its effect on one's life.

In other words, worrying is always about ourselves - about our ability to survive or handle a bad event happening.

Anticipating is different. Anticipating implies readiness. When you anticipate the risks, the dangers, you are preparing yourself against them. This involves strengthening yourself to be able to deal with them.

The core aim of strategic planning is not to achieve a grand or bold result - after all, that is out of one's control. Rather, the aim is to anticipate, to ready yourself against, what will keep you from achieving the result.

It's by eliminating or managing the risks that achieving a result, however bold or grand, becomes possible, even likely.

Interesting enough, the more ready you are because of your planning, the less worried you become.