Any business woman or mentor worth their salt will extol the virtues of having a concrete and robust business plan. They should also tell you that you need a marketing plan and a visibility plan for your venture to succeed. And you’ve probably even heard the adage ‘to fail to plan is to plan to fail’. So I’m about to upset some people with these musings, but there’s not much new there, so here goes…
Don’t plan – dream!
Martin Luther King did not begin his epic speech with the word’s: ‘I HAVE A PLAN TODAY…’ and I can’t help but wonder what the outcome would have been if he had. How would the world have responded to a watertight strategy of dealing with racial hatred? Would he even have had one? Would their have been targets? Who would have set them? Surely there should be some sort of incentives in place for non violence? Who would project manage the whole thing? I somehow suspect that these were not priorities inside of his vision for a better world. He had a dream though, and he believed in it and shared it in such a way that others were compelled to forward that vision out into the world. I am pretty sure he didn’t even have a spreadsheet let alone use evernote for organising this grand venture!
Dreaming the impossible dream
I have just had a month long experimentation with some of my own coaching principles as part of a small group. We took on daily habits that were aligned to our dreams and purpose and focused all of our energies on realising them – even the ones that seemed impossible, out of reach, never going to happen or at least not going to happen anyway as part of the regular business planning process. I’m going to re-brand the whole experiment ‘A Month of Miracles’ because what emerged was truly nothing short!
But before I get into the remarkable things that showed up let me first share with you how we ordinarily go about our pursuit of the things we want in life and why these plans can in fact hinder us, tie us up in knots and generally limit our progress in life.
Are you limiting your possibilities?
When we follow a plan too rigidly we limit our ability to accept other possibilities. We shut down the creative side of our brains and become fixated on our left brained methods, strategies and deadlines. Now these are useful to a point but will only ever deliver that which we already know how to deliver. What else could they possibly deliver? You can only ever know as much as you know. So ultimately your plan will only ever be as effective as the knowledge you have acquired to date and made the basis of your plan.
Are you paying attention?
And when we are following a rigid plan we are no longer exploring the other options, or looking for opportunities that pop up outside of the plan, we become blind to them or do not see the possibilities that they may present because they live outside of the direction of the travel that we feel we must take. As I am writing this I am wondering how many life changing opportunities have already passed me by without so much as a whisper because I simply wasn’t paying attention. They were surplus to plan requirements.
So, at the beginning of my Month of Miracles, I had a loose plan, it contained all the usual features;
- Write 4 blogs
- Write this article
- Attend 4 networking events
- Prepare workshop
- Contact all promoters of workshop
- Find 3 new promoters of workshop
- Update twitter daily
- Update The Scarlett Scoop daily
- Email the group their daily habit reminder
- Invoice for work undertaken…. you get the picture!
And on this particular month I was more interested in my REAL business drivers, the ones that lie hidden just beneath the surface, the ones that drive that endless list of activities and the ones that, were I to have a miracle, would eradicate the need for half of that list of endless activities!
My Big Vision -
To inspire women to create a world that works for everyone
Then some underlying dreams and goals that I wouldn’t know how to plan for:
- Increasing visibility with less arduous ‘doing’ on my part
- Finding the right platforms to share my message when I’m not yet a ‘name’
- Knowing what steps to take and in what order to reach the most people possible
And then I formed a question to ask myself each day, and my question was simply:
‘what needs to happen for me to do more of what I love and less of what I don’t?’
And I asked it every morning and every night for the entire month, along with some other gentle practices that kept me focused on my Big Vision and feeling open and relaxed.
Find time to wonder
All sorts of ideas started coming to me, many of them thoughts I had already had but just not actively written into any sort of plan as I wouldn’t have known where to start in terms of fulfilling them. I noticed a series of sub-questions beginning to arise and rather than trying to control them, factor them into a concrete plan or figure out how to answer them, I just continued to wonder about them, often sharing my daily pondering with others. They included; ‘I wonder how I can get a business mentor to help me at no cost?’ and ‘I wonder how a girl like me could get a column in a magazine?’ and ‘I wonder how I could become a ‘name’ that people know and trust?’
Now I do happen to know that having an enquiring mind and an attitude of wonderment works – it’s how I drummed up my husband to be, (at short notice and with no rational explanation), amongst other unexplainable occurrences throughout my life.
Even Einstein sites it as a tried and tested measure for getting what you want, it’s just that pesky logical, left brained part of us always wants to control the show and figure everything out. We love to make the uncertain, certain. We just LOVE a good old dependable PLAN. They are so, well, safe! It is actually quite something for the regular control freak such as myself to stay in a place of wondering without wanting to force an outcome, get expert advice or just give up writing the whole exercise off as being a little bit of new age fluff.
So what happened in my month of loosening my grip on my plans?
I got the opportunity to publish an article on the Marie Claire website, with a new insider ally who knows I’d like a column. A journalist has offered to advise me on a strategy to achieving the same end. Tomorrow I start the first of six monthly business mentoring sessions with a multi millionaire business boff – for free. I got a totally unexpected and immediately actionable publishing deal that will place my book on Amazon, Tesco and Barnes & Noble platforms, oh and I got 1 step closer to finding Oprah Winfrey for a crazy, ridiculous dream I had almost forgotten about.
The results of the rest of the group were pretty out there too. One of them, with no prior experience in TV decided she wanted her own show. This month she has unexpectedly been filmed for a documentary, been approached by two TV producers, befriended a celebrity and accidentally sat next to a man who puts TV show ideas to the big channel bosses. To be clear this was a ‘never gonna happen’ goal!
For those of you who have read think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill, you’ll be aware of the power of having a focused mind and a powerful mastermind group. And I am just wondering if there’s something about a collective willingness to make things happen that just, well, makes things happen.
We can never, ever know all that there is to know and to think we can conquer our worlds through the limitations of our own self derived plans is short sighted at the very least. And perhaps, just perhaps, those tightly bound plans are in fact counter productive. I wonder?
Stay aware of the vastness of that which you don’t yet know, for it may hold many miracles that you could not even conceive of logically. Out there in the realm of things beyond your wildest imaginations may just lie everything you could ever plan for. I mean wish for.
So what may be possible for you if you just relaxed a little on the planning front this month, got back in touch with your dreams and the real underlying drivers behind your goals? What might show up for you if you were just insatiably curious about the game that you’re playing in life? What else might you bring closer to you if you were to release yourself from the shackles of that five year plan just for a moment?
Schedule the wonder
And if you’re struggling with that level of relaxed, hippy-dom you could always plan a month of wonderment? You can literally schedule it in:
9am Focus on burning question
9:10 Ponder life and question
9:15 Notice sub questions arising
9:20 Feel good and wonder about stuff
9:25 Plan navel gazing for this evening
There, that’s better!
We’d love to hear if you have ever separated your plans from your dreams because your dreams were out of reach, or if you went right ahead with your dreams, plan or no. Please share with us in the comments section below.
Salli is ‘planning’ another Month Of Miracles to start on the evening of the 24th July for those interested in having a 1 month period of intensely focusing on one area of life in which they feel need a miracle! If you want in on the action then contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.