Episode 155 - The Wisdom of Baldrick
The Thursday Thesis - 13/6/2019
Baldrick: Wait a moment, My Lord! I have a cunning plan that cannot fail!
Blackadder “The Witchsmeller Pursuivant”
Yep, even Blackadder’s sidekick – the downtrodden yet optimistic Baldrick – had a plan. And Baldrick’s plan was always very cunning – at least to Baldrick.
And it’s a funny thing, but growing up in Wolverhampton in the sixties and seventies, nobody mentioned plans for our lives: certainly not at school, and not at home either. At no point did anyone suggest that having a plan for your life would be a good thing, or that aiming high was to be desired and admired. Though, come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t have listened to them if they had: I was always a stroppy little sod.
As the seventies ended and the decade tipped over into the eighties the story was still the same: plans for your life were not talked about: they were not what you did. I do distinctly remember being told that if I were foolish or arrogant enough to dare to make a plan, I could expect Fate to thwart and frustrate me at every step.
It seemed that Life Plans were for dreamers and delusional oddballs; the know-alls and nutjobs. And there was something comedic about these people with plans, too – as though they were dreaming a little too hard...
Now I understand that if we don’t have a plan for how our lives should be, we’ll end up working for someone else who does have a plan for us and whose plans probably won’t be much to our benefit: I just wish I’d found that out forty years ago!
You don’t have to look far to see people making plans – invariably the wrong plans. It’s commonplace to spend a very long time planning one’s wedding or annual holiday – but it’s much less common to really plan a life for oneself, based upon what might be a fun way to spend the next seventy or so years.
Doesn’t that strike you as odd – or is it just me?
If you have a plan, then there’s a chance of things going the way you want them to. Without a plan we are unlikely to end up with what we want.
Like a beautiful ship without a map or compass, we can sail and drift for years – sometimes for a lifetime – even though the rudder is working and the sails are full of wind, but without a course to steer by, even the best ships wreck and run aground on unknown shores.
In the military it’s often said that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” and it’s true. The armed forces are masters of planning, and the phrase “planned with military precision” has become synonymous with effective and efficient operations. Here’s the thing, though: the army knows that its plans will not survive contact with the enemy, but it still invests time and effort into making plans to ensure that the desired operational outcome is achieved with minimal losses – after all, what kind of army goes off to war with the idea that they’ll maybe go and “...wander around – probably in that country over there - and maybe do some fighting...”?
It would be ridiculous for an army to act in that way, and it would be ridiculous for anyone to act in that way, too.
For an army many lives may depend upon the operational plan: for us as individuals, we are entirely dependent on our plan, or – more often than not – no plan whatsoever.
We march forth into each new day, becoming too focused in the day-to-day business of daily life to pause and look a little further down the road, survey hazards and scout for opportunities, and to make plans for their evasion or exploitation. Lost in the fast-paced busy-ness of everyday life, crisis of the moment and our immediate needs, we forget to plan what happens after today’s crisis has passed.
So I think it’s a great idea to take time off, once a year, and get away from work for a day or three. Isolate yourself from anything that could distract you from figuring out how you’d like to spend the next ten, twenty or more years and deciding what your life might be after those years have passed.
Write it all down and review your plan – in depth, every month; refer to your plan on Monday morning and notice how things are progressing or not progressing; then identify the short-term activities which will move you closer to your desired outcome.
It’s not rocket science, but a plan is usually the thought-foundation upon which everything else is built.
You see, making a plan is just like creating a blueprint for your life. There will be changes and amendments, re-thinks and re-drafts along the way, it will never be completely right, and it will never be perfect, because no plan ever is - but even a fairly good plan has a better chance of success than having no plan at all.
© Neil Cowmeadow 2019
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