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Maria Gonzalez Blog
Mindful Leadership

You Can Plan But You Can’t Control

I watched a great interview last night with Peter Mansbridge of the CBC and John Cleese.   Cleese said a joke that caused me to laugh out load for quite a while.  The joke was very simple.  He said, “how do you make God laugh”?  And the answer was, “by telling Him your plans”!

I think this strikes one as funny because we all know it to be true.  But, somehow we don’t believe it.  We think we can plan and that as a result, what we plan will actually materialize with a certain predictability.  The reality is that we can plan all we like (and it is certainly necessary to plan in many instances).  But, having done our best, we then need to be prepared to “let go”.  What this means is that we need to recognize that we do not and can not control outcomes.  The only thing we can control is our effort and our behaviour.  But apart from that, “control” is an illusion most of us carry for far too long.

And this illusion causes us great disappointment and stress.  Our effort to control everything, so that things turn out “our way” is closely linked to our attachment to outcomes.  And it is this attachment that causes great suffering.

So, next time you have planned and desperately want things to be a certain way, stop to see the humour and the futility in such an attachment.  See the illusion for what it is.  In so doing, you will experience great freedom.

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