publication date: Jun 2, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
Just how deeply do you want what you want - for your
campaign, your charity, yourself? Actress Martha
, now selecting applicants for a summer of training at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival
CBC's Michael Enright
, "I don't want
to hear that someone's doing a teaching degree in case it doesn't work out.
It's a sign that the person isn't fully committed."
Later in the interview, recalling her early involvement with
the National Theatre School
commented, "You have to know that this is what you want more than anything else
in the whole world. It's too hard otherwise. Conviction of your calling is all
that gets you through the hard times."
The downside of Plan
Whew! In a world where we're taught to have a backup plan at
all times, this sounds like an extreme-risk approach to the things that matter
most. But what if there's an edge to be gained from choosing not to emphasize
Plan B - which is, by definition, not quite as desirable as Plan A?
From another viewpoint, consider what happens to our
commitment, our willingness to drive what we know is right or best for our
organization, our donors, our clients, when a little voice inside reminds us,
"It's OK if this doesn't work. We can always do Plan B instead."
Doesn't that phrase feel like taking our foot off the
accelerator? Right away it sounds like Plan A might not be quite as essential
to success as it first seemed. We're settling, and it doesn't feel good.
The power of
Complete commitment creates power. If you've ever
procrastinated on a project, and then exceeded what you thought you could
accomplish once you had no other choice but to do the task now, you've tasted
the power of commitment. You set all other distractions, and even other
worthwhile tasks, aside to get this one thing done - because you had no other
Now I'm not suggesting that procrastination is commitment.
It's not even a strategy for creating commitment. It's more like a happy accident
when it works, and a sign of really poor time management when it doesn't. But
once in a while, by chance, it does show us what we can do when we have no
other choice but to deliver on that one thing.
It may be that tapping the power of total commitment
requires us to set aside the search for other options: those exit strategies
and live-with compromises that sap our drive even as they reassure us that the
world won't end if we miss this goal.
Staying committed to
the best choice
But what about due diligence, we ask. What about risk
management - professionally, organizationally, personally?
Here's the thing. The best way to minimize the risk of Plan
A not working out is to throw everything you have into making it succeed. That
means setting aside any thoughts and plans of what you'll do if it fails.
If too many doors slam shut along the way, trust yourself to
recognize it. Those closed doors will point you towards Plan B at the right
time. You'll know that since you gave Plan A everything you had, and it didn't
work, Plan B is now your best choice. Incorporate what you've learned from the
crash of Plan A, and approach your new endeavour with the same single-minded
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