Plans are worthless . . .


. . but planning is everything. 

This saying is attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, and to be honest it didn’t make sense to me at first.  Plans almost always go awry in some way, but that’s not the same as saying that plans are useless

Substitute the word “preparation” for “planning” and the meaning becomes much clearer.  I was reminded as I worked on this post of a talk I heard many years ago at an educational conference by Dr. Jerry
Tetreau.  He was speaking about the importance of being prepared to teach, using the Latin word praeparō, meaning “to make ready in advance.”  If you’re prepared, then a change in plans won’t throw you.  And there are always changes in plans, no matter how well thought out they may be. 

Back in the mid-1970’s I saw a great illustration of this principle.  A fellow graduate student was doing her speech recital, a dramatic presentation on Catherine Booth, the wife of William F. Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.  There she was, up on stage all by herself, costumed in a cape and hat, when suddenly something started flying around the stage.  She kept going.  Eventually, I think, the critter disappeared, but she never missed a beat, and she finished the recital to great applause.  Know what it was?  A bat.  How would you ever plan for such a thing?  The truth is, you wouldn’t.  You couldn’t.  You could only prepare.

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