Patton actually said: “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” The quote had military application. However, today, its variation is a popular aphorism used in business.
The quote seems to address indecision, the human capacity to second guess a decision, and perhaps fear of failure.
The quotes, “He who hesitates is lost” and “Carpe diem” (Seize the Day) uphold a similar philosophy. Yet, one may argue that these less specific maxims could encourage reckless action – something that Patton was often accused of himself and which he disavowed when he said: “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”
Patton believed that a plan of action must be sound if not perfect. Patton took the view that you make your plans as best you can and then execute them with immediacy and total commitment.
In life, many take the view that too many opportunities are lost because people fail to take decisive action. They fine-tune their plans, put them away, take another look, make a few alterations, hesitate and then fail to act in time if at all.
Mini Bio: Gen. George S. Patton
George S. Patton, born 11th November 1885, came to prominence as general in the U.S. Army during World War II. A highly controversial figure, he was nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts”.
He operated in both the Mediterranean and European theatres of war but is best remembered for his dynamic leadership of the Third Army in France and Germany.
Patton biographer, Ladislas Farago, wrote that Patton was the allied general most feared by the German high command which monitored his whereabouts obsessively.
In spite of that, Patton was a controversial figure in the United States: he frequently made public pronouncements that were unbefitting his office and once slapped two shell shocked soldiers for cowardice.
Patton died on 21st December 1945 from injuries sustained in a car accident during the allied occupation of Germany.
6 thoughts on “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. ~ George S. Patton”
This quote is a great reminder that a life well planned is a life well-lived. I think a lot of people hesitate with deciding that they want for their lives. This is probably a natural reaction of fear to the future and what will come next, and sometimes it’s so harsh that it renders some people incapable of taking their own decision. I personally think that life is about balance.
One one side, it’s important to plan ahead and know what one really wants. But it’s also important to leave out space for fun and spontaneity.
Probably if we only focus on what we will achieve, we’ll achieve nothing at all. There are a few things that just can’t be planned, for example: “how to be happy”. Being happy is a choice, it’s something you tell yourself every morning and thrive to create the right thoughts and affirmations that will lead you to have a beautiful life. But when it comes to career, it’s makes a lot of more sense to have it well-planned and thought out, to avoid working and dedicating one’s life to something we don’t love and enjoy. Thanks for such a great post! 🙂
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I think Patton realised that there is no truly perfect plan. As Steinbeck said: “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Even so, Patton could think on his feet and always had contingency plans ready.
A very good one from Patton here. I think he is right and the truth is that a lot of people are very indecisive this days and they just seem to procastinate every single time. Take that decision now is good but it is also good to remember to take good decisions too. Decisions that are timely and still very brainy.
Thanks for that, Jay.
Patton earned the nickname ‘Old Blood and Guts’ because he was accused by detractors of being brash, even at the expense of his men’s lives.
His admirers believed he was decisive and that his results speak for themselves.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that his men admired him greatly.
He was buried in The Ardennes with his soldiers who fell during the Battle of the Bulge.
I love hearing quotes from the past. They seem a lot more genuine and real than the ones we hear spoken today.
I don’t know if they had professional speech writers 75 years ago. If they did they were much better than today’s equivalent. When you hear quotes like this they are timeless and have as much relevance now as then.
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As far as I can tell, Patton wrote all of his own speeches, some of which got him into trouble with the top brass.