"It is a bad plan that admits of no modification."
I was raised to be good at planning for the worst and hoping for the best. As an adult, I built upon this by doing all the responsible things that an adult should do. I stayed the eternal optimist and left what was outside my control to hope and faith.
Being a planner-optimist worked for the most part until new experiences broadened my view on things. It started in earnest when we were living and working abroad, which led to lots of opportunity to travel to new places. Travel taught me that planning every detail and activity would eliminate the opportunity to be spontaneous and to be a part of new experiences that can’t be planned ahead of time. Our best travel stories were happenstances, like the time in Italy when we came upon a outdoor club gathering on our hike and they fed us, or the time an old man carrying a sack of oranges in France gestured us to follow him up a hill to a breathtaking lookout point. This last summer, one of my favorite memories was of yodeling in the Alps…because we were lost in finding our hotel and we were in no rush and no one was around. I have learned that while planning helps to optimize time in a new place, one must also leave room to take a different path if it presents itself—the rewards can be priceless.
Now I carry this forward into my daily life. Where I was more rigid, I am more flexible, more improvisational, more creative. Adaptability is what has allowed me to survive my very challenging work environment. Adaptability has also encouraged me to see things in different ways and to pursue different paths I didn’t plan for before. Adaptability makes me feel more confident in taking risks.
I still plan, and I am still an optimist, but I’ve also added creative, and adaptor. To be good and stay good at planning, optimism, creativity, and adaptability, I know I must practice every day. The only downside is that I have lately found myself to be more incompatible with inflexible people who will die on their swords for the plans/views they cast in stone and then try to impose it on me. A new challenge to overcome :)
This comes from my Facebook Newsfeed. A friend of mine liked this photo from Boycott the Mainstream Media’s page. I find this an inspirational business model and would be curious if it is sustainable over time. Neat idea though!
In an attempt to have some discipline in practicing creativity, I have been taking a free, online course with Stanford’s Venture Lab called “Crash Course on Creativity”. There’s an assignment every week, which really puts pressure on me to force the time and my mind to go to this space regardless of work stress. I know I will be grateful for it eventually :)
This week’s assignment was to create a new sport using only 2 household items. I had only one night to come up with this, but I must say I am glad I did it. Hope you enjoy it too. Here's the link to my Slideshare.
1. An occasional guilty pleasure I indulge in is an episode of NBC’s The Voice on television. I was struck how (unlike other audition shows) these aspiring musical artists were so classy about being eliminated. Various versions of thank you so much, what a wonderful experience, and how much they love Adam, Christina, Blake, and/or Cee-Lo and how much they learned occurred, person after person. I searched high and low to get a HD clip online of any of these and couldn’t find any. Finally I resorted to recording a sample from my own TV with my iphone, the result of which you see here.
2. I was at a conference earlier this fall moderating a panel on global talent when an MBA student raised their hand and asked, “how do I convince companies to give me an offer?” My response I’m sure was not anticipated. I said, “You don’t.” I went on to explain how their starting point should be about discerning what unique/special gifts they bring to the table, knowing full well that education and work experience are givens when it comes to every other MBA student searching for first job out of school. Then they should work on how they can make sure that those they speak with understand those gifts, at which point the right company will be there to offer the position. Often times, getting rejected from a job offer doesn’t necessarily mean that one is not good enough, but more often than not, it is simply not a match for the time, circumstances, etc. Therefore, they should plan that every time things don’t work out, they should think about what they learned from the experience, but also understand that the opportunity wasn’t for them. In other words, it just wasn’t the right match.
I use these two examples to illustrate the point that disappointment doesn’t need to be a negative experience, but rather an opportunity by which one can grow. When one accepts (and is even grateful) when things don’t work out, one also opens up to the new possibilities that will follow. Take a page from The Voice’s unsuccessful candidates—after all, it’s far more pleasant that way. Now I should practice what I preach :)
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