John Steinbeck on why you don’t need a plan

In 1941 at the beginning of American involvement in WWII, John Steinbeck reflected on the Nazi regime in a letter. He wrote:

“It is interesting to watch the German efficiency, which, from the logic of the machine is efficient but which (I suspect) from the mechanics of the human species is suicidal. Certainly man thrives best (or has at least) in a state of semi-anarchy. Then he has been strong, inventive, reliant, moving. But cage him with rules, feed him and make him healthy and I think he will die as surely as a caged wolf dies. I should not be surprised to see a cared for, thought for, planned for nation disintegrate, while a ragged, hungry, lustful nation survived. Surely no great all-encompassing plan has ever succeeded.”

Thankfully, he was right and four years later the Nazi regime was over.

Companies are obsessed with efficiency. Six Sigma, lean, these are efforts to be more efficient. The factory system of productivity that ruled the last century adored the machine model. We’re still trying to fit that old square peg in the new round hole of the chaotic, ever-changing modern world. Emotional intelligence will get a leader worlds further than eradicating some small inefficiency in a system. 

No moment is created equal. We manage our energy, not our time.

Maybe you don’t need a better plan. 

Maybe you just need to let out a little more of your passion.

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