We’re a results-oriented society, thus the outcome of an activity is paramount to Americans. Planning is integral to the process. And with that, control over it.
Outcome begins with intent. What do we want to do, accomplish? The Goal.
As a rookie teacher, a newbie, I learned goals and objectives were essential to any lesson plan. I was to plan it to a T. “By the end of this activity, the student will have produced, be able to, have a clearer understanding of, will discover…”
Over time, I became frustrated trying to recreate a very successful class activity or discussion with another group even though the content was identical. It was something I had to work on because, as a teacher, your primary goal is to maintain control of the entire classroom process: behaviors, so classroom management, and the curriculum. Over time, I realized the best controlling agent was student interest and, better yet, excitement and anticipation.
As I matured and became more confident in my skills, I learned it was not only better but best to set a broad plan, and then “let it rip.” To let it unfold as it will. The reason was that students in one class created a certain dynamic that resulted from that combination of personalities along with the time of day and other factors. It’s a lesson I’ve carried into my post-teaching life.
Detachment from outcome. Allowing life in general and the course of a day and the events that fill it to unfold as they will. Plan, but be spontaneous and allow the wonders of the Universe to manifest themselves.
That formed the basis of a recent long road trip to visit family, to connect with current friends, and to reconnect with ones from the land before time: high school. And it unfolded beautifully in ways unexpected, like meeting a sister’s neighbor suffering—dying—with ALS. A truly noble, old soul with whom I formed an immediate bond. Brilliant mind with a most courageous, never-grousing outlook on life, one that began in poverty and will end strapped to a wheelchair. A most learned man with a keen interest in The Story.
A few years ago, another friend had introduced me to Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall and countless other works. I had, therefore, read some Harrison, but Bill had read them all. He had met and conversed with Jim and had several signed works. It was a magical evening, one that I will recall vividly to the end of my earthly days.
That synchronicity played out as well when I reconnected with a high school friend whom I hadn’t seen in 50 years. Of course, on the way to his place, I went off on a different route that brutally put me into the thick the Washington D.C. beltway rush hour. Two and a half hours to cover 30 miles. When I finally arrived, he commented sardonically but with a smile that I hadn’t changed since ninth grade. “Nope,” I laughed, “still can’t follow directions.”
While there, Bernie learned another classmate lived a short distance away. A few phone calls later, we reconnected with her and a magical afternoon with her and her artist husband unfolded.
Spontaneity. The willingness to go off the beaten path or, in that case, on to it and have that fulfilling experience, which often is jubilating but could also be fraught with peril, challenge, and frustration. All part of the human experience. After all, if I never experience all those, how can I authentically write about them so that readers say, “Yep, I get it”?
That experience played out over and over throughout my trip, from Omaha through Iowa to Virginia eventually through Pennsylvania to Columbus. Then a beeline to Colorado. A horse to the barn.
I learned those aspects of my personality are part of my psyche’s DNA. The Myers-Briggs test said so.
Socrates said, “Know thyself.” 2,500 years later that remains sound wisdom.
According to Myers and Briggs, whose work is based on Carl Jung’s theories, there are 16 broad personality types.
I am an INFJ: Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. What’s yours?
Good time to explore or refresh if you’ve been taken the test.