Act of Priority Shifting

Published on: August 18, 2011

While I was back in Nepal, I met a very dear friend of mine after a pretty darn long time. She came to visit me at my house and we had great time chatting about old days. During our chat, I asked her if we should plan for something coming this week. She pulled a tattered sheet of torn paper where she had meticulously drawn a calendar with each box containing her schedules. I was impressed and embarked upon making my own sheet. We made a plan for Thursday get together with other friends. I marked in a big letters under my Thursday box. “5:00 pm Meet Up”

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There is always some sense of gratification in planning which is interesting to ponder upon. Laying out agendas, road-maps and schedules are time consuming and interesting, only to realize the hard rules of priority shifting. Now I was home after a long time and that also only for 20 days, so I had simple agenda but no plan (Don’t confuse PLAN with AGENDA. It’s the same confusion between IDEA and EXECUTION). Some of the most important were: Being At home, hanging out with Friends, Taking a Road Trip and meeting some folks according to priority.

Well, THURSDAY 5:00 PM Meet Up never happened and we had to squeeze last 5/10 minutes to make ourselves available before I left Nepal (This happened at the nick of time with delicate time sharing and priority shifting – a common term in design of Operating System :)). So what happened to all that planning and scheduling? Did the earth change its direction? :) Well, no but what did change was priority. That happens often in life, priority changes with time and situation. And the whole act of balancing your way means everything. At the end of 20 days, I had all my agenda ticked mark, with few missed task (Remember this, got my agenda fulfilled but missed some task).

Now that demonstrates 20 days demo of your life. Life is often taken as long journey which I think is an illusion. Your long one year journey is just a dot in your entire life. Now how important you want to make that dot depends upon you. If you are skilful you might just be able to stretch that dot into a line. (This comes from my ongoing exploration about time independent theory of aging. Which I am planning to write when I get it right:)) Just like 20 days, life is short with all your agendas and priorities mixed. At the end of your life, I think you find yourself staring at a list of agendas with Green Tick and Red Cross marks all over it.

Even after that short 20 days, my days are still on turmoil with priority shifting. Being an entrepreneur, you have to be able to shift gears and change at nick of time. I have stopped counting how many times, I have made those tight turns. Shifting is very important activity because shifting allows you to align yourself to your agenda. If you miss the shift, you end of losing one agenda from your list :) unless you find other turn and time to re-align yourself. Beside the illusion that there are ample opportunities, I try not to get overwhelmed by it. You just keep hitting and missing things, sometime you are glad you missed and sometime you are not.

I have a belief that it’s always easy to make the most important decisions of your life, but really difficult to make less important decisions. The catch is how do you know what is important and what is not. The goal of PLANNING is not to get the AGENDA right, but to get the processes aligned and executed properly. Planning is process dependent activity where you are not concerned about the agenda but only with processes and minute details of activities and getting them right. Hence, there is a thin line between PLAN and AGENDA, which ties them together and is a pretty difficult task to figure that out.

One of my artist friend had told me long time back that getting the right composition in your painting or photography is very important than getting the lines or circles or focus correct. And knowing or identifying good composition is a lifelong activity and realization, never ending. Getting right focus or straight lines are like getting things planned out. You will have to use right lenses and right brush strokes to get your content right. You may get a beautiful picture or painting if you have right plan, but the hard fact behind the art which is composition is not dependent upon your plan. It has nothing to do with the quality of your image or quality of your brush strokes or focus.

That is why it’s so difficult to understand the link between agenda and plan, or idea or execution because those underlining concept are hidden and mysterious, making the both end tied with random rules (also popularly expressed as rules of god :)). This is much more complicated than wave- particle duality which consists of only 2 states; here we are talking about multiple instances with different form and factor. Welcome to string theory, where these multiple instances are expressed as a form of energy vibrating at different frequency. Not a discrete state of particle or wave, but entirely spread over concept of continuum variable. Sorry for diverting but I had to make a shift to demonstrate just how important it is to understand the complication with getting things right.

Therefore, the act of priority shifting is the closest think (I assume) that can come to realizing your agenda or that can come to realizing your composition or that come to realizing your idea take form and shape the way you visualized. But off course, priority shifting always comes with a price of changing your plan. You won’t get it right the first time as I told you earlier; the missing link has mysterious nature. That is also why, recently a popular theory on Failure has been appearing in every innovation blogs because the closest to getting things right is to try it out.