My wife and I are applying for a grant that would help us study Celtic spirituality and creation next summer. Our goal is to work on some materials that would enrich our own spirituality and deepen our own faith. At the same time we hope to enrich the materials available for use by others to include a good way to introduce people to a deeper and fuller sense of who God is.
The difficult part has not been conceptualizing what we want to do or who we would like to do it with. There are some wonderful people in England and Ireland who we find helpful. And the work of John Philip Newell has been useful at poking the imagination. So we are starting to frame out the kinds of ideas around creation, the cross, discipleship and a Christian life that seem to give us a good picture of the things we’d like to dig more deeply into and the people and places that seem best able to make that happen.
The difficult part has been developing a timeline for the grant request. One of the groups that lead experiences doesn’t know its own schedule for 2013 yet. So, while we know they will be helpful and want to use them to help us learn and grow, we don’t know which week(s) that is likely to happen. Getting a season (summer) is possible, a month likely, the actual dates – not so much! Another place we are interested in spending time and gaining help from is the Northumbrian Community, a place of dispersed monastics who have a base in the Northumbrian region of northern England. Again, they have both helpful content and a helpful place. Their schedule for 2013 is not yet complete (and when it is it may change many times between now and then!).
So, this experientially points to something I have been teaching to people I coach. You cannot plan too much when things are very far down the road. Planning 60-90 days out for details is often enough. You have to do it – details matter. But the process for a good effort require the following:
- frame direction and priorities first,
- picture a vision to guide your plans and work,
- determine responsible parties,
- fill in details as they become possible (usually broad details 90-180 days out, specifics within 60-90 days)
Some things do require longer-term preparation (big projects or perhaps something smaller but planned for a busy place where reservations book up early). But over planning way ahead means either filling a plan with BS, cutting responsible parties out of the creative process, making a plan that will have to be almost totally redone, or locking yourself into things that you should not do but have no idea about so far ahead.
We are hoping to outline a plan that is close to what we hope to do. It will have the direction and priorities clear, a vision to guide our work, and responsible partners to help us along the way. But the schedule outline that the grant requests may be tough. It won’t be BS but as our deadline approaches it is clear – we can’t be quite sure it is exactly how this will turn out either!