I recently heard a radio interviewer ask Hyrum the question, “What about interruptions? Don’t they make planning futile?”
The advent, in the last 15-20 years, of electronic communication has made the interruption – what I choose to call “the unexpected” far more difficult, if not impossible to dance around. Because, you see, that’s what we’ve been doing – dancing around the discussion of how to resolve the very real conflict between plan and unexpected.
We’ve developed mechanisms to deal with the conflict but we’ve been, more often than not, less than effective. I think of the most common ways to manage the natural plan/unexpected conflict as personalities – you’ll see your own version/vision of each personality as you read further.
The Plan Sticker – obsessed with planning and the consequent plan. Loves to accumulate and show off their “check marks” indicating just how much they’ve got done.
Benefit – planned work gets done
Problem – unexpected events are avoided and continue to fester (these people avoid email, texts and phone calls with a passion – these things, being unexpected, would take them “off plan” – a world they break out into hives imagining
The Firefighter – it is common to think of the unexpected as “fires”. Firefighters put out fires. They do this, in our context, by responding to, listening to, dealing with and fighting every unexpected/fire that pops up. In the age of modern communication just imagine how many things that represents.
Benefit – fires get fought. Really popular with those who bring them/create the fires.
Problem – plan is ignored. Planned work goes past deadline becomes fires. People who are delayed are upset. Deadlines become dysfunctionally fluid.
The Workaholic – does it all. During work hours, fights fires – the fire bringers are present. Stays after work hours (fire bringers have gone home) and works on planned work in relative peace and quiet.
Benefit – unexpected events and planned events handled
Problem – what I call the “D’s” – depression, disease, drink, drugs, disease, divorce, death – can’t tell you which one will get them but one will.
The Wanderer – pays little, if any attention, to planning, executing plans or responding to fires. Tells everyone else to “chill” or “let it go”. Wanders through life sipping from the fountains of pleasure and carefully avoiding the peaks of pain.
Benefit – very pleasant, utopian way to live
Problem – this lifestyle requires funding – parents, inheritance, kind friends and neighbors, government, society. When the funder finally gets fed up they wake up call to the wanderer is shocking.
The Productive Person – the productive person is “producing” – they are getting things done. Some of those things are planned and some are unexpected. They have moved past the old saw, “Productive people stay on plan – are you on plan?” Because, it’s never been about being on or off plan – the plan is AN option, not THE option. The goal is to be productive. Hyrum teaches that productive people are people who do “what matters most”.
So, what does matter most? This is where our book 3 Gaps comes into play. What matters most is found in three very “findable” places, if you’re willing to pay the price. What matters most is found in the interplay between
Values – your highest priorities. What you’d cross the I-beam for (read the book)
Beliefs – the things you’ve proven to work based on the observation of patterns (think of the pattern in gravity) and carefully considered answers to the efficiency/effectiveness balancing question, “Which beliefs will best meet my needs OVER TIME?”
Goals – thing process and pathways that allow me to live and embrace my dreams.
The bottom line is this – when you know what you value, what you believe and what you dream of and you set the pursuit of and alignment with those principles your standard you are prepared to manage the plan/unexpected conflict.
You simply, and bravely, choose – whether planned or unexpected – what is best positioned to allow you to close the gaps you’ve created through poor choices with your values, your beliefs and your goals. You live with intention. As Thoreau said, “… [you] live deliberately.”
Are there consequences? Sure. Are some people not happy with your choices? Yes. Welcome to life. But, in this case the consequences, though painful, are manageable because they were not randomly selected or chosen through a particular personal style – the were intentionally and boldly chosen – to close the gaps in YOUR life and to bring you the right to “inner peace” – serenity, balance and harmony through the closing of these 3 Gaps.