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.