The Call to Adventure, Part 3: Make a Five-Step Plan

(This is the third installment of the Capture Higher Ed blog series, The Call to Adventure, which discusses billionaire Ray Dalio’s “Principles of Success” and how they can be applied to the admissions office. In the first installment, we introduced Dalio and his principles. In part 2, we discussed his first two principles, “Decide What to Do and Have the Courage to Do It” and “Deal with Reality.” Today, we will look at Dalio’s third principle of success, “Make a Five-Step Plan.”)

In the previous principle, we learned to deal with the reality of a situation through understanding that the obstacle IS the path. This means our mistakes help us progress. In the admissions office, the pain of the day-to-day search for students helps us evolve — as individuals, as groups, and as institutions.

Now Dalio offers a five-step plan toward making this evolution happen — and it happens as much in ourselves as within our offices and our teams.

Step 1: Know Your Goals

How many seats do you want to fill? What kinds of students do you want? How much are you willing to spend? Know your goals and then go for them full-throttle.

Step 2: (Really) Attend to the Problems that Stand in Your Way

What are they? Work to understand them. Is it because of a personal issue? Or a group dynamic?

Step 3: Diagnose these Problems Fully to Get at Their Root

Should a solution present itself, don’t jump at it too quickly, Dalio says. For example, I’ve found that the most common cause of my making mistakes and bad decisions is simply my impatience: I want to finish tasks quickly and decisively. Problem is, in my hurry to get to that “success,” I fail to take into account all the details, or ask the right questions, and so on. The result? Start over — which costs me more money, time and energy.

Step 4: Once You’ve Defined the Problems, Devise a Plan to Eliminate Them

Portia Nelson wrote that famous little poem about the hole in the sidewalk — how many times you’ll fall in before you start to realize you’re at fault for not paying attention, and in the end you’ll not only step around the hole, you’ll walk down a different street.

Step 5: Execute the Designs You’ve Come Up With

You’ll probably have to push yourself to stop falling in the hole — as Nelson points out, falling in the hole becomes a habit. Break the habits.

Tune back in for “The Call to Adventure, Part 4,” where I will discuss Dalio’s fourth and fifth “Principals of Success” — “Meet the Abyss and “See the Patterns in the Machinery.”

By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed