Christopher Columbus didn’t have a plan

After centuries of largely male style leadership, we are often reminded of the importance of having a plan.The Discovery

To fail to plan is to plan to fail! they boom

What’s your life plan? they enquire insistently

And of course in many situations where tangible action is required to create concrete results, usually in a situation which is a repeat of something that already happened, a plan is just the ticket. Get your steps mapped out, know what to do next, get on with it, get results. Excellent.

But what about when you are doing something for the first time? What about when you have an urgent sense of possibility – the strong feeling that there could be more land out there somewhere beyond the horizon and someone could go and find it, with all the adventure, risk and potential glory that offers? What then?

Christopher Columbus could plan some aspects of what he was doing. He had to organise finances, recruit a fit for purpose crew, get political blessing, find the right ship and fill it with whatever supplies might be needed for an unknown voyage into unknown territory under uncertain conditions. But the main point of the journey resisted planning. If you don’t know where you’re going how can you decide when to arrive or what to do when you get there? This was a strong intention. Not a plan.

If you are an innovator, someone who questions the status quo, a cross-pollinator of ideas or in a  creative role, then you will probably find yourself in a similar situation.

Sometimes we need an intention, not a plan

So don’t let not having the manual put you off. If you feel a strong urge to do something and can’t find the way, then maybe it’s because you’re the first person who thought of it. Or nobody else had the courage or the imagination to do anything about the thought yet. Be clear about your intention, plan the bits you can and set sail. Who knows, you could discover a whole new continent that nobody in your world realised was there.

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