Loosely Held Plans

This is not a diatribe again planning nor again planners. What it is, is a gentle reminder to not cling tightly to your plans because the larger the project, assignment, mission or endeavor the more likely the plan will need to be significantly adjusted. On the other hand, launching into any major activity without planning is foolhardy. The special forces have a phrase – One Plan is No Plan.  They know from experience that things change so much that it does not make sense to expect change will not occur.

Planning is a lot like rehearsing or practicing and they are all worth doing, as is the step before planning which is Scoping. And Scoping is often neglected which is a topic for another day except to say the plan for a million-dollar project and the plan for a $100 project tremendously differ. So before you make a plan see if you can get your arms around the scope.

But back to why most plans should be lightly held. Because we can not plan for feelings and feelings dominate thinking for most of us. And if you manage to be inflexible enough to be far more rational than feeling you will never be able to lead anything including yourself. The reason is simple, we can not tell what is going to happen in even the near future. Not politically, economically, environmentally, nor any other way.

How many of you expected the global economy to be waylaid by the one-two punch of a global pandemic closely overlapped by an ex-economic superpower making a power grab for a strategic European nation with gigantic energy and food repercussions?  And all happening under the watchful eyes of the world’s most powerful nation’s dysfunctional legislature unable or unwilling to perform the checks and balances necessary to keep the executive branch and courts in line.   

Seriously, and then the desire to blame an administration for the inevitable inflation is in part fed by a ridiculously greedy financial sector. How can any business or even any nation plan for these kinds of things? Of course, it is easy to try to blame someone, anyone, except all of our systems are operating the way we designed them. And all of the people we have put in power are exercising it.

Every musician knows they have played better when practicing alone or in some nonperforming situation. When subjected to the stress of performing most people function at a level below their peak. Sometimes quite significantly below. This is why they practice a lot to make sure they can not drop below a very high level of performance. The residual skill of a professional even when they have not practiced is usually much higher than the amateur on their best day.

This is also true of people who are terrific planners. They are rehearsing for the actual time when the actions have to be performed and they are ready if they have to change and modify their plans because they have already thought through many options.

Call it what you wish, planning, rehearsing and practicing are all forms of preparation that are imperative just do not expect things to go exactly how you anticipated and then you will not be upset when reality happens to you.

You simply can not predict how you and others around you will feel. No one who feels can.

If you want something to cling to, make it behaviors not plans, goals, or outcomes. The only things you can control are internal and then not all of the time either. But you can commit to and practice behaviors that are consistent with who you think you are.  

Take this into account where you are planning!