You may recall that I talked about thoroughbred horse trainer Todd Pletcher on Friday. He was going to the Breeders´ Cup, horse racing´s biggest day, with a record 17 starters in the eight races. What happened to him on that day can be a lesson for all of us trying to manage our time.
The fact that Pletcher got 17 horses ready for the races on the same day is an incredible testament to both his talent and his time management skills. Despite that, though, Pletcher suffered the worst of luck on the big day. Despite having at least one horse in seven of the eight races, and having as many as three in a couple, Pletcher didn´t manage to win a single race. To add insult to injury, he ended up in the good-but-obviously-disappointing second place position in three of those races. Close, but not close enough to silence his critics.
Pletcher dominates racing in the United States, but he struggles on the biggest days. He has never won a Triple Crown race (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont), and he has won just two Breeders´ Cup races in 41 tries. He usually wins more than 20% of his starts. Because of these continued disappointing performances, headlines in both racing publications and mainstream sports publications are picking on Pletcher.
Here´s where the lesson for the rest of us comes into play. Pletcher obviously has a plan in place to manage his time. The fact that it was designed with the target of the Breeders´ Cup in mind, and that it didn´t accomplish its ultimate goal — Breeders´ Cup championships — despite multiple chances, needs to be evaluated. Pletcher needs to look at what he did, how he did it, and whether he could have done it differently. He can´t, though, just toss out everything he has done and start over because of a bad day. Luck is a huge part of racing, so Pletcher may just have to accept that he had an exceptionally unlucky day.
The same thing applies to you. No matter how well you plan and actively manage your time you are going to have days (or weeks or months) where nothing goes right. You aren´t going to get everything done all the time, and sometimes your best laid plans will be a failure. Like Pletcher, if that happens to you you need to spend the time honestly evaluating what went wrong and, just as importantly, what went right but is lost in the overall result. By doing that, and then making any changes that are necessary, you will ultimately have a much better chance of keeping your time under control.