Letting go, asking questions

Something I have always struggled with is letting go of a plan.  I love planning, and love implementing.  One of my favorite quotes is from Dwight Eisenhower: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything,” along with “No plan survives contact with the enemy,” from Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.  But having and following a plan has served me well, especially earlier in my career when the primary person who had to follow the plan was myself.

Now, with the larger scope of people I seek to engage, I have to practice taking input and adjusting.  Letting what needs to happen emerge and giving space for that.  It could be as simple as changing the focus of a meeting from what was planned to the topic that is hot and needs attention.  I am better at this kind of adjustment now than I used to be, but I would be deceiving myself if I said I was totally at ease with it.  I get attached to my plan, and to the goal I am driving toward. Anyone who knows me well could tell you this.  And as I said, this has served me well, and at the same time has not.  I am resilient and don’t give up easily – or some might say stubborn.  I tend to achieve my goals – but have at times moved with such determination toward them that I have missed other opportunities that emerged along the way, which I did not even see until they had already passed me by.

It is such a habit for me to drive toward something, I have to be quite intentional about practicing pausing and opening up to things I might not be aware of – in myself, in other people, and in the larger system at play.  It requires that I tune in to a different level, drop down into my heart and body from my head.   What I am doing to practice this in a very concrete way is to try and start every interaction I have with a question instead of a statement.  I did it for an entire day, and at first it felt a bit forced, but just doing that one thing completely shifted my experience of the day, toward feeling more open and having more discovery.  It definitely is not yet a habit, and may never be, but I am working on integrating this into my day to day way of being.

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3 Responses to Letting go, asking questions

  1. Sarah Trelease says:

    “Plans are nothing; planning is everything” !! I agree that its the making of the plan that has the power. My tendencies run in the other direction. I shoot from the hip.When I make a plan I feel more grounded. And when I make a plan and drop it I feel grounded and agile.

  2. Karl Hoover says:

    Starting each interaction with a question…fascinating. Look forward to hearing about what questions you are testing. – Karl

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