The Plan

The Plan: Anyone who knows me, would also know I have to go to various places for my work. In my professional life, having to go to places has been a requirement. From appearing at academic forums to working with cities and counties, I have had the good fortune of working in nearly 150 communities in America and traveling to about 35 different countries. All this needed careful planning. And we plan to mitigate the risk of things going wrong. Everyone must plan. The rich kid of rich parents with the expensive car must plan the tryst with his crumpet on the beach, as he cheats on his wife, just as the academic has to plan how to present the most effective research presentation before a discerning audience. Because planning eventually mitigates risk, the crumpet and the seducer get away with their cheating and the academic gets accolades. Planning is a lot of work, and a good plan is one where the outcome is as expected. The test of a plan is the successful completion of the activity with the appropriate amount of success. I remember a night in the middle of Oklahoma, driving back from yet another focus group meeting at a Church basement, I had planned a route back to my hotel, but still got lost in the backroads of Oklahoma. The plan had failed simply because my vision was compromised, and I could not read the map (yes there was life before GPS). That night in Oklahoma, the plan was not successful, but when the plan works, there is actually an amazing amount of satisfaction in knowing that all the arduous work at the beginning is now reaping the benefits now. This is why some people become intensive planners who often live in the future all the time – planning – but perhaps not benefiting enough from the actual moment when the planned activity was happening. In some it can become a continuous process of planning but not living. The plan takes away the spontaneity of the moment when true friends can laugh suddenly instead of having to sneak into some hotel room for the planned cheating tryst. Planned activities have a certain willfulness that is premeditated with not only a quest for success but sometimes with a desire for obfuscation. In the famous classic film Dial M for Murder by Hitchcock, or in many other such stories, there is an emphasis on a carefully planned crime, and the narrative hook is the plan going wrong. The thrill of a good plan is when it works, and the nightmare begins when the plan falls apart. As they invariably do. Cheating husbands get caught and volcanoes erupt in Iceland, stranding people all over Europe (ask me about this :) And the real test of an individual is how one reacts to the plan falling apart – creativity and resilience is displayed through adaptation and courage, while the weak and the scared remain baffled and flee in fear, letting statis set in to reduce risk. Inaction attracts no risk, planning reduces risk, and resilience gives the ability to face risk. Plans will fail, it is up to the individual to see what to do when it fails as well stated by Clash, “I fought the law and the law won.”



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