Monday, November 20, 2006

Plan This! (Lessons from The Game of Pool)

They say that if you want to make God laugh, show him your plans. A wise general said that your plans go out of the door once the first bullet is fired.

In a previous post, I wrote that planning triumphs over plain perseverence.

However, how do you plan a game of pool?

If we were to plan a game of pool using traditional project plannng techniques, more time would be spent drawing gantt charts, pert charts, detailing force angle calculations etc. And even then it would come to naught with just a stray shot. In theory if you planned a game of pool properly it would only take 9 shots to complete the game.

Only if the person playing the shots were a world class expert would he be able to do so, and even then only 30% of the time.

I observed this phenomenon while playing pool. I realized that there is a high amount of chaos in pool, and the skill varies amongst players. But sooner or later we all manage to pot all the balls.

The secret I believe is to pot one ball at a time and at most think 1-2 shots away but nothing more.

In a highly chaotic situation like life, we must prepare for chaos by living one day at a time. If we were to plan to pot all the balls perfectly in life, i.e. try to plan each day of our lives 5 years away, we would be under tremendous pressure. But the pressure is lifted when we just play one ball at a time.

Jesus said that we shouldn't worry about tomorrow. Yes planning is important, but if we were to worry, it should only be to accomplish what we have to today.

The next lesson I think is to keep on learning from each shot, learn how the balls move with each shot, how different potting situations come up to, the point of impact of the cue, how hard or fast we pot, the angle of impact and predicting where the ball will hit the sides and come up. We will never learn pool just by watching it. We must play it.

In the same way, we must learn to live life not just by watching (though observing other people's success and failures helps us) but also by doing.

The more we practice living life, the more skillful we are in handling the chaotic situations of life.

Life is not just planning but also of adaptation. Maxwell called his law the law of navigation not the law of planning.
Navigation involves both looking at maps and planning your route, logistics, etc. But it also involves adapting to the circumstances of the sea, the wind, the waves and the weather.

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