The Plan Or The Situation

One of the most helpful insights Dave and I gained during pre-marital counseling was the realization that we had fundamentally different approaches to prioritizing our time. One of the questions on one of the assessments we completed (I believe it was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) asked whether we “changed the plan to fit the situation,” or “changed the situation to fit the plan.”

As you might guess, I answered that I would change the situation to fit the plan. And Dave, of course, said he would change the plan to fit the situation. So if he was watching a movie with some guys and was supposed to be home at a certain time but they started the movie late, Dave would come home late because the movie ran long. I, on the other hand, expected that Dave would leave the movie before it was finished so he could stick to the original plan. This difference in perspective could potentially lead to an argument. (Hypothetically, of course.)

While Dave and I can laugh about our ongoing difference in this area, we have seen the same difference lead to conflict in other contexts as well. Some of us are wired or culturally conditioned to choose the plan over the situation. Others of us (or of you, let’s be honest) are wired to go with the flow and to prioritize the current situation over the previous plan. Neither is inherently wrong, although a particular situation might call for one approach over the other. For example, bad weather might necessitate making a change to an outdoor event, while a worship service might need to begin before waiting for everyone who arrives late.

As a leader, it’s important to know which perspective you favor, and to realize that others might have a different approach. But it’s also important to communicate which approach will guide a particular situation, and who gets to decide. This can minimize frustration and conflict based on different assumptions.

Do you usually choose the plan or the situation?

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One thought on “The Plan Or The Situation

  1. Hayley Frandsen says:

    I usually change the plan to fit the situation. Our family is quite busy and so I have to go with the flow. Also, I teach 132 seniors every day and I can count on interruptions and complications and I just make the most of it. Sometimes my students surprise me with what they do and do not know and I have to be flexible.

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