The 'How' is none of my business

In the West we get wrapped up in the ‘How’ of life. How to do this, how to do that - what's the strategy - how will you get from here to there?

How, how, how! We become obsessed with it.  But there’s a problem - because when we become obsessed with ‘how,’ we lose sight of ‘why,’ we lose sight of our mission - what we are trying to achieve - our dream. And that's dangerous, because when we lose sight of our dream - where we're going, what we’re here to achieve, something insider us dies.

We become a machine - following instructions,  reading a script. We lose our creativity, our flexibility, and our ability to be visionary. But that's how society is currently operating in the most part. It's a by-product of the industrial age, where we were trained to follow instructions provided to us by the mill owner - or in later years the employer. It may have worked when we had a job for life - when we had a safe career, sometimes spanning our entire lives, but in today's environment where we are increasingly required to be artisans, contractors and consultants - offering different skills at different times, it simply doesn't cut the mustard.

So here's something I learned from my good friend Neroli - who told me ‘the how is none of your bloody business.’ Rather than obsessing about how things will happen, and getting really upset when things don't happen the way we planned them, a letting go. Because when we let go of the linear thinking that says we have to go from A to B before we can reach C, we actually open up to a variety of new solutions. The trick is to stay flexible - like a surfer with her knees bent, riding the peaks and troughs of different sized waves.

Now I'm not suggesting that we take our hands off the wheel and allow the universe to drive the bus, as it hurtles along the narrow road on the side of the mountain top. Naturally that's a recipe for disaster. Allah will not provide for us if we don't provide for ourselves. Of course we do need to take action - we do need to take the steps required to get us closer to our goal, our mission, our dreams. What I'm saying is that we should avoid getting hung up on what each step looks like on this journey. We need to stay flexible should a better solution comes to us as we head towards each step. if we are not open to these better solutions, we simply won't see them - and we will miss these opportunities that come our way along the journey.

Radical thinking? Not really, it's what any well-trained tactical military unit would do on a field mission. They make provisions for when the unexpected happens. They keep their plan loose and flexible, so that if the team leader is killed or wounded they have another course of action available to them. And that's just what I’m proposing you do in your business. Keep focused on achieving your broad mission. Keep that mission, that dream alive in your mind. But don't become a slave to the exact steps you need to take to achieve that mission. Because the unexpected does happen. You may think you have imagined the best steps to take to achieve your mission, but you could be wrong - there could well be better ‘How’s’ - waiting to be discovered along the way.

So my advice would be to stay flexible, don't get hung up on the strategy, don't get hung up on ‘how.’ Have a plan sure - with milestones that you are working towards, but stay open-minded and flexible to new approaches and new ‘hows’ that may well be more efficient, effective and more relevant to your overall mission than the original strategy you had imagined.

Because ‘Why’ is so much more powerful than ‘How.’

Justin Cooper