I love strategies. I love making plans.
True story: When my husband and I first started dating, I was about to head out for a five-week trip to Costa Rica and was packing a pretty full schedule. I’d suggested we open the calendar together and do a little planning. He said yes, with enthusiasm. He had me at his willingness to get into planning mode with me, but really won me over when he said “This is great, now we know all the times we’ll get to spend together.” *giggle swoon*
Fast forward six years and he groans at calendar time and gives me that side glance and says “Had I only known the extent of this passion.”
And it really is a passion. Planning is like dreaming but with legs and laced runners. Strategies are art forms. Laying out the puzzle of commitments and hopes, possibilities and promises. Dreamy. Strategic plans really get satisfying when they tangibly weave together futures that balk at the status quo, that seem in conflict, like success + rest or scale + intimacy.
I’ve learned a lot over years of flexing the ol’ strategic planning muscles. From ins and outs of actual project management (you know, that super boring stuff called execution that comes after the master plan is created?) to the sobering truth that planning can be a form of escapism.
But hands down, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned over and over again, is that there has to be room for mystery. One of the things people come to me for the most, is clarity. It’s a noisy world and we humans are complex. It’s so common to feel lost or unclear. I agonize in the fog as much as the next person.
But how often, when seeking clarity, do we really mean certainty? Is there something you’re dreaming of, something you want to move into, something you’re called to create and you say you’re not clear? Maybe you are clear. Maybe you just want it to be a done deal and sure thing.
It’s a mistake to believe that you can’t move into your next vision before you’re super clear. Because the mystery has a way of having her way with you no matter what. The clearest of clear get derailed by the mystery. And the fog can give way with magical cadence.
My most liberating strategy to date? I plan for the mystery. I plan for what I see, what I’m called to lead, with the information and capacity that I have. And I let the rest incubate and unfold in the shadows. There’s way more unknown than known. But that part isn’t up to me. That’s up to the mystery.