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What’s the Best Way To Handle Carefully-laid Plans Falling Apart?

What’s the Best Way To Handle Carefully-laid Plans Falling Apart?

The Ask an Entrepreneur series features YEC members' experiences in entrepreneurship in a Q&A format.


Question: What’s the best way to handle carefully-laid plans falling apart?

I have great plans, but sometimes, no matter how carefully I consider possibilities and contingencies, things fall apart. What’s the best way to move forward?

Meet our Entrepreneur: Russell Benaroya, Co-Founder and Partner, Stride Services

Russell Benaroya is an entrepreneur with a background in corporate finance and private equity. Prior to becoming a partner at Stride, he was the senior vice president of corporate development for higi, a population health enablement company. He is an active investor in technology start-ups, an instructor in healthcare innovation at the University of Washington, and a mentor for TechStars. When not helping other entrepreneurs succeed, he is contemplating life on 24 hour+ ultra trail runs.

Answer: You can’t control everything. Embrace the adventure.

Earlier this year, some friends and I planned a self-supported 93-mile running event in Mt. Rainier National Park. Prep for a self-supported endurance event takes planning: training, route logistics, nutrition, and contingencies. We planned for a 30-hour run, carrying our food, water, and equipment. We started off on August 15 in high spirits. We got this! Right?

Not so much.

We encountered some difficulties we were prepared for, like losing water containers; we had backup containers, and we kept going. But some difficulties can’t be overcome. Illness, with its accompanying mental and physical exhaustion, did us in. We cut our run short. (Check out the full account of our (mis)adventure here.)

I love goals. I love achieving them. We did not achieve this goal. But the takeaways are pretty important for me. Here is what I learned:

If you always reach your goals, you’re not setting them high enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to complete the Wonderland. But it wasn’t a guarantee, and that’s the idea. As we get older, our inclination to take risks goes down (our desire for both control and security goes up). But if you don’t see your upper limit, you won’t know where it is and what you might be able to do in the future to break through it

It is the unscripted parts of life where great adventure awaits.

The whole orchestration of getting care for my vomiting friend (he does have a name but I’m going to protect that unless he gives me the green light) and then figuring out the logistics to get back to our start was super fun. We met some great people who had a lot of empathy. I am sure they felt like they were doing a good deed helping out three desperate souls. Some great stories emerged from this that we will carry for a long time.

The only meaning in an activity is how you choose to define it.

There was nothing inherently meaningful about a 93-mile trail around Mt. Rainier. It was just there. The trail doesn’t care if I ran around the whole thing or not and frankly, no one else does either. I define the experience. It is just my story.

Friendships emerge from the unexpected.

We connect through stories. We bond through experiences. As we get older, there just don’t seem to be as many stories created. I definitely built some new and stronger friendships with my running partners because of the outcome.

You can’t control all the variables.

I can talk about the critical importance of nutrition and self-care and fighting the demons, but the truth is that I don’t control what ultimately happens. What I do control is how I respond when they arise and most importantly, what I learn about myself when they rear their head.

So, I did not complete a circumnavigation of the Wonderland Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. And ... it was a super fun adventure. I want to continue to welcome these moments of uncertainty where the script isn’t pre-defined, and embrace the growth that comes out of it.

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