The gods must be laughing

“When we talk of tomorrow, the gods laugh.” Chinese proverb

What? We’re in the planning business, for goodness sake. If this is true, why make plans? Sure, there is a ton of evidence that living in the present is essential, but was Daniel Burnham wrong when he said,

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…Make big plans, aim high in hope and work.”

How can we live in the present when it’s clearly essential that we “plan” for the future? The answer lies within us, for it is not the plans themselves that create the future. It is the planning.  When we lead clients through the process of master planning, our true goal is not the creation of a document; a deliverable to satisfy a Board of Trustees, or to put on the shelf and collect dust. The real power of planning is in opening the mind, releasing the imagination, conceiving what had until that moment been inconceivable. And is so doing, we discover something has been there from the beginning.

The incredible, latent power of human potential is released through the process of imagining. The voices in our head that whisper “too much, too hard, too grand, too controversial, too weird, too expensive” are quieted during the planning process. Before the backhoes and brick masons arrive, the “cost” of planning is nominal. And yet the value is incalculable. So, why is it so difficult, and why is it often done so poorly?

Many of us have forgotten how to listen for the inspiration that flows like an underground stream just below the level of consciousness. And working in isolation, in our private offices or our solo practices we have lost the ability to help each other hear what we have been missing. It is so much easier for me to help you calm the naysayer in your head than to calm the naysayer in my own.

Instead of living (and working) in the present, we are stuck in the safe solutions of the past, or afraid of the uncertainty of the future. It is when we are fully present that we can hear the rush of the water.

Now, more than ever, our clients and our potential clients are desperate for us to stay tapped into that subterranean river of creativity that we at one time splashed in joyfully and hopefully. We may need a new swimsuit, but we haven’t forgotten how to swim.  Let’s jump in together.