Plans or Planning?

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
― Gloria Steinem

Planning for the 2018 Central and North Central Division combined conference began in summer 2015 and has been ongoing since that time. The dreaming part was fun and easy. Lately, though, the pace has picked up to such a degree that I feel as if I’m in the throes of planning for that conference. The Oxford Dictionary defines throes as “intense or violent pain and struggle, especially accompanying birth, death, or great change.” Conference planning isn’t quite that dramatic, but there is plenty of intensity, surprise and compromise that occasionally add up to a sleepless night or two and what feels like throes. Even so, I persist.

I’d always thought that plans and planning were synonymous, but now I’m not so sure. A recent online search for “quotes about planning” turned up more on the subject than I thought possible. It seems that many famous and not-so-famous people have a lot to say about plans and planning, but what intrigued me the most were the quotes that distinguish between the two: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

As I understand it, planning is the process of creating plans and plans are the product of the planning process. It’s in this process of planning that we consider variables of the component parts and possible outcomes. Whether plans are filled with minute detail, are minimal or are somewhere in between, successful outcomes require planning. Planning gives you the confidence to deviate from well-laid plans when circumstances require it. Planning helps you have faith that the outcome will not be a disaster.

Having a great set of plans doesn’t mean things will work out the way you expect them to, especially when people are involved: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Robert Burns (adapted). Experience has taught me that one of the great mistakes a choral director can make is to rigidly adhere to a rehearsal plan without considering the other humans in the room (i.e., the choir) and the realities of the moment. Plans are necessary, but I submit that we’re only as good as we can deviate from our plans, and that requires thoughtful planning. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Allen Saunders.

About the author

Mary Kay Geston, President, NCACDA

Mary Kay Geston, President, NCACDA