PLAN what’s NEXT: The perpetuated urban legend that says it’s possible!
The most irritating question I can pose to my family is this: What are your goals for the coming year? I have asked this question over a beautiful meal in an upscale restaurant to unsuspecting loved ones who just want to enjoy a perfectly grilled steak and garlic mashed potatoes! While I love asking the question, it's never actually received a positive response!
I ask this question because I am looking for someone to affirm me in my “planning obsessed” sub-culture where I live all by myself.
If we are going to get a little stereotypical, I would go so far as to say that I am the stereotype that free-spirits try to avoid because my “planning issues” feel a whole lot like “control Issues”.
In reality, by virtue of the balancing act that includes such random things as caregiving, oil-changes, and strategizing ways to support mission and vision, many of us feel like we could be described as an evolving species with the ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome BECAUSE WE PLAN!
As a planning freak, I pride myself in stopping and asking for directions, reading instruction manuals, and mapping out five year adaptive plans with the precision of a Japanese fillet knife.
'Winging it' does not come naturally to me, and I would say that for most of you reading this post, that phrase would describe you as well. This post is about leadership, and most leaders don’t thrive while flying by the seat of their pants. We shudder at the thought of “just seeing” what will happen NEXT.
I like to think that NEXT stands for:
N: Nothing left to chance.
E: Everything is labelled and secure.
X: X-tract risk and replace with certainty.
T: Tie with a bow and deliver ahead of schedule.
(Incidentally, my boss, David Horita, says this is a recipe for a miserable life.)
I love to have a plan, stick with the plan, and then tell everyone about how perfectly the plan worked out!
It’s like a dopamine rush for planners.
But plans get messy and complicated because life has a way of sabotaging my NEXT!
Honest contemplation forces me to face the truth that the only NEXT that I can plan is how I will react to what is actually NEXT.
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6 not to be anxious. I would like to think that I can almost hear Him as he earnestly tells them to quit trying so hard to make a plan…
Matt 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
This is not a reprimand that precludes them from planning for the future, but rather it is a recalibration that brings focus to what really needs to be planned for.
You see, my desire to talk about 12-month plans with my family has the hidden agenda that includes holidays and bathroom renovations. My obsession with “NEXT” is so far removed from altruistic that it borders on narcissistic!
The biblical focus on “what’s NEXT” needs to include:
● How will I react when things go sideways?
● Where will I turn when my anxiety threatens to overtake me?
● When my team quits, will I forge ahead or give up?
● What will I do when my leadership is questioned?
● Why do I even get out of bed in the morning when my plan blew up the night before?
Planning in the paradigm of your leadership is about your reaction to the actions around you.
I hope that you are making your plans to join us for our P3 Leadership retreat in October where we will dive into the deep end of your personal NEXT.