Monday, April 2, 2012

Participate in today

A plan is always a good thing to have. I know how to get out of my house in fire. I know our budget for the year. I know the big themes of my department and the pieces to develop in support of seeing those themes come to life. I have a view to my career five years from now and where I'd like to be and how I might get there (possibly changing my mind along the way). A plan offers some control over coming events and how we'd like to influence the outcomes.

The other "plan" we all own exists in our daytimers and calendars. It's the way we book up our days/nights/weekends and hours/minutes. A month or quarter that starts as a blank slate often ends up filled with tasks and outings that we include as asked. Suddenly, you've only time for your best friend in six weeks time or a hair cut in month. Recently, I discovered my day was so tightly bound as to give me three minutes to run between buildings set 10 minutes apart (unless I run and some days I just don't feel like jogging through the sea of suits).

The overburdened calendars aren't so much a plan as they are a map of our time - one that isn't always deliberate and made with choice. This isn't planning; it's a takeover that can leave us feeling a distinct lack of control.

Good planning is not just about contingency and influence on the next month/year but being able to see what is happening today - to take the time to be present. If we're are able to create enough space in our minds and agendas to participate and evaluate what today might teach us, then we'll only get better at directing future outcomes.

It's a bit of a balancing act but to focus only ahead often has us lose too much in both the short and long-term. Appreciate the four-year old and not just the college student he will become. Honour the uncertainty of a new friend before rushing to fill the void with intimate information. Allow some questions and chaos before creating a solution for a project or problem.

I'm all for planning. (I'm told it's my main trait as a Libra :-)  But if listening and learning are also leadership skills, then we must be willing to let go of the agenda and participate some of the time in order to have better planning skills.

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