All of your time, no matter what activity you are doing, is spent doing one of three things.
3. Problem Solving
To be effective you should work to master each of these skills.
You plan the thing, are present when doing the thing, and have to problem solve on the fly when the thing goes wrong.
Last week we covered planning. Today its Performing.
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Regardless of whether you have a plan or not, in each moment you are living in the moment.
If you are taking action based on your plan then your focus will be narrow and your performance high.
If you are simply reacting to whatever comes your way then your focus will be scattered and your performance low.
The largest part of your time spent each day is performing in the moment, regardless of how effective that performance is. Better then to study and apply ideas about how to make that time as effective as possible.
Scenario 1 - The Person With No Plan
A man gets into his rowboat and paddles out of the harbor. He is going fishing.
He doesn't know where they are or what bait to use so he just brought whatever he could find lying around the house. He paddles and paddles until he gets tired, then ships his oars, puts a little bacon on the hook, and casts his line.
For a while he sits without getting a nibble. The sun rises higher. He drinks a little water, yawns, and begins to doze off. All that paddling made him tired.
The rod bounces and the man jerks awake. He's got a bite!
Standing precariously in the boat he fights the fish with everything he's got. The rod bends until he is sure it will snap. But he backs it out, then reels it in. Backs it out and reels it in. Let the fish tire itself out.
Then he can see it, running fast along the top of the water. It's a whopper! He keeps a firm hold on the rod and slowly, slowly, draws the big fish closer to the boat.
Finally it is alongside. He reaches for the net, scoops it into the water and… success!
He flops the big fish into the boat. It’s a beauty, all silver and sleek.
The man looks up with satisfaction, smiling. Then his smile fades.
He can't see the shore.
The sun is setting.
And the wind is starting to rise.
The man with no plan lived in the moment, letting the currents take him where they may.
He was even successful despite his lack of knowledge and preparation - he caught the fish. But the price of that success ended up being higher than he can likely bear.
Scenario 2 - The Lady With A Plan
A lady steps onto the sleek, fiberglass center console. She is going fishing.
She's never been offshore before but its something she always dreamed of doing. So she saved for the trip, planned the best area, time of year, and hired an experienced charter to take her out.
They cast off the lines, idle out to the breakwater, then the Captain opens it up.
The twin outboards roar to life and the boat shoots forward as if surfing a giant wave. In a moment it is on plane and they are rocketing towards their destination - a blinking blip on the electronic map.
They hold course for about an hour. The seas are a little choppy and the hull slaps as it crosses each wave, jarring her teeth. She is getting tired from holding the grab rail, and the constant bracing against the motion.
Just as she thinks she can't take it anymore the Captain pulls back on the throttle and the boat quickly slows to a bobbing stop.
They prep the rods, cast the lines and… nothing. Not a nibble.
They try for a while here, then troll the area looking for the fish. She tries different hooks, different bait. The fish just aren't biting.
Her hair starts blowing around her face and she looks up. Dark clouds are forming on the horizon and the sun is going down. The Captain nods at her and starts up the big engines.
The lady is disappointed but not discouraged. After all, she planned for three days on the water. She'll come out and try again tomorrow.
The boat circles around north towards land. But just before they hit it the lady points. She sees something on the water.
It looks like a rowboat…
The lady with a plan also lived in the moment, but as a direct result of her past planning.
Despite not catching a fish today she is undeterred. She knows that you can't truly control the result but you can put yourself in the best possible position to achieve success.
Living in the Moment
Some people think that having a plan limits your spontaneity. Not so.
Having a plan creates space to be spontaneous in the moment because you have taken care of the details. You have freed up your mental capacity because you are not trying to make it all up in the moment.
No plan survives first contact with the enemy, its true. You can't plan for every variable and need to adapt in the moment.
But if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Having a little preparation in place and a baseline direction to go gives you clarity of purpose and thought. You still need to be mindful of changing conditions, but its much easier to be aware of the big picture when the small details are sorted.
Plans drive performance.
You can drift with the currents or chart a course. The time will still pass, and there will still be some result, but only one way of living finds you with your hand on the tiller.
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