Plan or prepare – What is more important?

October 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Practice Excellence, Self Improvement | Leave a comment

There is a saying “Man proposes but God disposes”. All of us would have experienced it often. We plan something in every meticulous detail, but when the time comes to put the plan in action, the reality turns out to be different from what we anticipated; sometimes catching us unawares. Our success then depends on how well we are prepared to deal with the new reality.

Not that planning is unnecessary; it is very much required in terms of identifying the actions and resources needed to carry out those actions. It also helps to use our (and others’) past experience to assume the quantum of resources, sequence of actions and their dependencies. But the problem starts when we believe that the future will be same as the past because then we stop thinking about what could happen differently and whether we are prepared to deal with it.

So it seems logical that along with planning, preparing for the unexpected turn of events is also essential. But the next question is what and how do we prepare for? For one normal expected flow, there can be tens or even hundreds of permutations & combinations of what can go wrong. It is impossible even to think of, let alone prepare for all such eventualities in advance. Hence rather than a very rigorous approach, we need to develop an empirical mindset where we are watchful for any signs of deviations building up rather than going with a blind faith that everything will work out as per plan.

The first step is to accept and practice an open mind that our assumptions & beliefs can be wrong and should be subject to revision. For some of us, this can be quite challenging as it threatens our self-image, but getting over this hurdle can be quite liberating. Once we are able to open up our mind to the reality, the signals of change which were always there will start becoming more & more visible to us. As we are now open to accepting change, it will be easier for us to adapt to the new situations. This process of opening up the mind to new reality can be accelerated, if it is done in a group or team where members support & help each other.

The preparation would take place at two levels. For the specific plan under consideration the new way of looking at it would immediately start showing some of the parts we need to start preparing right away. But the major change, though relatively at a slower pace, would start at a more generic level and would have a long lasting multiplier effect. We would start examining how we take decisions and what skills & competencies need to be built-up to be able to take quick & effective actions. We would start taking a fresh look at our relationships as well as how we prioritize our attention. In short, it will start a steady process of evaluating ourselves dispassionately and putting desired changes in place.

At a different level, how we define and the way we measure our successes & failures would change. Any deviations from the plan would no more be automatically treated as failures; they would be looked upon as opportunities of improvement. This would result in a more positive approach to life and greater enjoyment from whatever we do.

To summarize, planning is important but preparing for changes in perceived reality is even more important. Once we start in that direction, the outcome can be quite beneficial & enjoyable. Your views and inputs are valuable; please share.




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