“If you Fail to plan, you plan to Fail”


Napoleon was defeated, not due to any real military prowess on the part of his rivals, but simply because of bad or ineffective planning. Famously known for his revolutionary fighting style, Napoleon was head of several successful military campaigns; apart from one. That is the one I want to tell you about today.

Napoleon had a carefully mapped out diagram for the area he was going to be fighting in. He used the information from that map to skilfully select his troops and plan his attack. His men were well briefed, well-organised, highly skilled and well-trained. They also vastly outnumbered their opponents. With their vast experience, and their leader’s careful and talented strategizing, they simply could not fail. They were to be fighting on an area of flat pasture, giving his soldiers a firm advantage over their enemies. They travelled for days, all the while, preparing to fight.

There was only one thing that Napoleon did not do. He did not send a man ahead to check if the terrain really was the flat pasture he had imagined from looking at the map. After many days travelling Napoleon and his army reached the battlefield, ready for victory. What greeted them were not the ranks of enemy soldiers that he had imagined, but a mountain. This lack of forward planning led to the defeat of his armies and finally the fall of his Empire.


Armor on the floor due to failure or loss of battle


Napoleon is a Good Example, Why Poor Planning can Lead to Failure.


I do not know of any story that more succinctly illustrates the importance of planning. Think about your own daily life. How much more effective are you when you have a plan in your head, or on a piece of paper? As Thomas Edison once famously said:

”Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

A short time spent planning can mean a lot of time saved in the long run. When we have a plan, we have direction. We do not waste our efforts, time or energy on things that are not important. Planning gives us a chance to prioritize, and the time to consider other approaches or better solutions or quicker ways of doing things.


A page written planning on it.

What Concepts Should We Apply to Our Lives, to Ensure that We Don’t Fail?


We can only reach a successful tomorrow though our careful planning of today. Here are some things to consider when trying to improve your planning:

RESPECT the importance of planning. Once you have internalised how important planning is you will be pleased to do it, and eventually careful planning will become second nature.

CONSIDER everything you do as a task – decide what you must be done to complete the task and finish it fully before you move on to the next thing.

DON’T OVERPLAN. Life rarely goes exactly how we expect it to. We must be able to plan loosely or have a ‘contingency plan’ in order to overcome any unforeseen events or setbacks.

RESPECT YOUR TIME. Estimate the time each task will take and try to stick with it. Choose a start time and a finish time and try to stick to it.

DON’T OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS. The student with a carefully written, complex revision schedule who spends so much time colouring in and decorating the planner that he barely has time to study is a bit of a modern cliché. DO NOT BE THIS PERSON. Make your plans quickly and effectively and as simple as possible and you will soon be
on your way to the success and the productivity that you are truly capable of!


A girl with orange jersey holding a daily planner

If you need more guidance on How to Prevent Failure, please look at one of our other blogs Work Smarter, Not Harder.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *