No Plan Survives Contact


First a little context. That’s me, paddling away determined to beat the rapid! Behind me is my friend, and let’s just say, she’s having the time of her life! Wait for it - the after picture is priceless.

Why am I showing you this? There's a phrase I use with clients to help them deal with the chaos of their work & life:  

“No plan survives contact.”

The US Naval Academy teaches this to the cadets on their first day.  They consider it one of the most important lessons of a future Naval Officers' career. No plan, no matter how well crafted and well thought out, will survive making contact with the real world. It will almost never play out the way we think it will.

I’m an enneagram type 6. That means - at least for me - that I will constantly be in a state of thinking about what might happen. It’s exhausting, as any Ennea 6 will tell you. I used to try to fight it. Go for a run. Meditate. Distract my overactive mind with something pleasurable or intriguing.

The best I’ve been able to achieve is the understanding that no matter how much time and effort I put in trying to think up every possible variation of some plan, I will fail. Knowing that, I have been able to accept and prepare for the inevitable switching gears. Rather than think up the perfect plan, I get ready for the perfect pivot! (I know. There’s a whole lotta perfect going on in that sentence but that’s another blog post.)

Accepting what happens, not with resignation but with an attitude of excitement and courage, is what I imagine all true adventurers do without hesitation. There’s even some humor in it. Like, ‘okay, that happened, whoa….!’

Don’t misunderstand me. Life can, and does, dish up some crappy stuff. What if, instead of trying to anticipate what could go wrong, you develop your flexibility muscles, and instead, plan for a pivot.

Like the picture above. One moment we’re rafting along on a smooth glassy surface, not a care in the world. The next, the raft is spinning, my co-pilot friend is laughing hysterically, and I’m frantically trying to make sure we don’t tip!

Ha! Too late. Into the drink we went, see photo below, and notice the only thing you see are my tennis shoes! And I lost my “Cal” baseball cap.

And we had a great story and pictures to prove it. Still smiling!