Embrace Opportunities and Be Flexible in Your Plan

By Alan Olsen
Embrace Opportunities and Be Flexible in Your Plan

Life is a journey and the race is usually not won in a day. While it’s important to plan ahead and it’s a good idea to map out your future, the fact is things don’t always go according to plan. Thus, it’s very important to be flexible and accept the things you can’t change and focus on the things you can control. I spent some time with Gary Rodgers, the former Chairman of Safeway Inc., which he was instrumental in selling to Albertson’s in early 2015 for $10.4 billion. Before that, Gary was the chairman and CEO of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, which he and his partner, William F. Cronk, built into the largest ice cream company in the United States and then sold to Nestle in 2006 for $3.2 billion.

Don’t Over Plan

Gary has a long and successful career and those were just two of the stops along the way. When I spoke with him I asked him what message he would give to the up-and-coming generation today? “I think the first thing I’d say is don’t over plan. You know I have a theory that if you getthe days right then the weeks will be right. If you get the weeks right the months will be right. And if you get the months right the years will be right and so on.” Gary shared one of his routines with me and said that each night he sits in his hot tub for 10 minutes. While he soaks he said he only thinks of two things: “Number one: how did today go, what did I do? And then I think about tomorrow, what’s on for tomorrow? Who am I going to meet, what do I want to cover? And it isn’t being self-critical, it’s just being thoughtful and prepared.”

Focus on the Moment

Gary said he believes that you only get one life so you better make the most of it while you can. He tries to focus on the moment and get everything out of each opportunity that he experiences. He said life is very hard to plan. “Lots of times you young people have a five-year plan or whatever, but those plans almost never work out. There’s too much randomness in serendipity, in life. The Boy Scouts have a motto: it’s Be Prepared.” He said he has discovered that it’svery important to be able to cope with opportunity whenever it comes your way. He believes that all of us will have more opportunities than we expect. However, some people are prepared to turn those opportunities into the successes and others aren’t.

Be Prepared & Follow Your Passions

“When I look back at my life most of the successes I’ve had I didn’t think about, I didn’t plan. They just sort of happened. But I was able to deal with the opportunities when they came along.” Gary also encouraged today’s younger generation to follow their passions. “You should never spend a day of this life bored or doing something that you find distaste for, or something that doesn’t lead to something worthwhile for you. Enjoy the journey, go for the gusto.”