When Professionals Write Development Plans What Do They Do

Might as well get used to it, we are very much a “what have you done for me lately” society. The folks I work with say things like, “Scott, I just had the best year ever and my boss wants more," or “My team just voted me most valuable and want to know what is next for us.” As a society, why do we have such a hard time celebrating success and achievement for more than a day? Why can we not bathe in the success and enjoy the moment for more than a moment? Ah, but I am starting to digress from my main point already...


By the time this article gets to you the Chicago Cubs will have celebrated winning the 2016 World Series. If you are reading this article, that means the rumor of the end of the world coming when the North Siders win it all has been grossly exaggerated. The accolades for the team keep pouring in, both in the major media and on my own personal text messaging. My good friend Ken Bish even wants Billionaire Joe Ricketts to give President of baseball operations for the Cubs, Theo Epstein, an ownership stake in the team. My answer was, Ricketts is a billionaire, they don’t give anything, that is why they are billionaires. Ah, but I am starting to digress from my main point again.

I woke up this morning, the day after the thrilling game 7, which kept me up until 1:30am. Come on MLB, really, you couldn’t have started the game at 7pmEST? Why not take a lesson from Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump? The people who care are going to vote for you no matter what, so why not make it most convenient and give the best product possible option for those who care and want to consume it? I mean really, this is a Thursday and some of us have to work so we can pay you $50 for a T-shirt that costs $1.25 to manufacture! Ah, but I am starting to digress from my main point again.

So, when I got up this morning, I put the coffee pot on and turned on the TV - something I never do. I practically ran into the living room to turn on ESPN’s Mike & Mike because I wanted to hear the celebration and insight from this historic event. One of the most interesting interviews was with Aaron Boone, who hit a home run in extra innings in game 7 of a League Championship series. He talked about how hard it is starting at 8pm the day leading up to the first pitch. Ah, but I am starting to digress from my main point again.

The Point

I just finished reading what I hope becomes a classic in the leader development space. The book is "GRIT" by Angela Duckworth and my main learning from her research is that those who succeed stick with it. They don’t let themselves digress from the main point.

Duckworth calls this perseverance. The most impactful research for me comes from a Stanford Psychologist, Catherine Cox, who studied 301 exceptional historical figures. According to the research, there were only two things that made the exceptional truly exceptional in their field: passion & perseverance.

“Quiet determination to stick to a Goal.” “Tendency not to abandon tasks in the face of obstacles." 


When professionals write development plans they practice Theoverance.

This term has its genesis for me as I have watched Theo Epstein craft this 2016 World Champion baseball team. There are three steps to this process, and the first and third one are often the ones that are ignored.

  • Have a vision for what leadership success looks like. Before you plan, you must dream and your dream has to be in sync with your definition for success. This is Stephen Covey’s famous “begin with the end in mind” principle. Many leaders have a vision for their organization based upon what is in front of them rather than what is possible.
  • Have a plan that is aligned with your vision. Is your plan filled with actions or is it really taking you toward your vision? This is where a lot of stress comes in for leaders. Is your plan taking you toward your vision or are you just putting in time? Are you choosing safety over satisfaction? No judgment here on my part. I understand safety and if this aligns with your vision then this is the plan that is right for you. You just need to manage the expectation that come along with a safety plan.
  • Persevere with the plan. If you have a vision and a plan, stick with it. Too many leaders I work with get bored, or when the going gets tough in the middle of the plan, they give up. When the going gets tough this is when you are learning what you need to do and not do for your vision to become a reality. If you like your vision and your plan, stick with it.

Baseball, and more specifically Theo Epstein, have taught me something about developing into a winner. I am now going to call it "Theoverance." Some call it perseverance, some call it grit. Some may even call it resilience. I am calling it Theoverance.

Theo had a five-year plan. Here are the results of that plan:

  • 2011 lost 91 games (56% of games)
  • 2012 lost 101 games (63% of games)
  • 2013 lost 96 games (60% of games)
  • 2014 lost 89 games (54% of games)

By now you have to be saying, yes, Scott, we know.. It is the Cubs. But wait! Remember, there was a plan… The vision took time to bring to reality.

  • 2015 won 97 games (60% of games)
  • 2016 won 103 games (64% of games)

You see, Theo and the Cubs management could have easily quit, given up, chalked it up to the Goat, or whatever mystical Bartman type curse could be dreamed up. But they did not! They stayed with the plan.

The Learning

Three points from our time together today:

  • Honestly assess your vision.
  • Have a leadership development plan. If you don’t have a plan, you will for sure stay where you are.
  • Stick with your plan. Believe in yourself. If you have a dream, you can achieve it.

It is vital for leaders to have a personal vision for where they want to head.

A significant part of managing stress is managing expectations. When reality does not equal expectations stress can sneak in and cripple your plans.

This article is dedicated to the memory to the three reasons I am an elated Cub fan today:

Harold “Poggy” Livingston  1899-1985
Ruth Ann Baker 1931-1990
Harold Robert Livingston 1936-2003
"Wait until next year" takes on a whole new meaning for me. Vegas has the odds of the Cubs winning in 2017 @ 3:1. Stay focused boys, stay focused and stick with the plan.