Plan Better through Intentional, Ritual Play
When we allow an Easeness plan to come together, we lean on a snappy set of tried-and-true techniques. Our planning exercises feel like play as we set about greasing the groove. This is a strength training method that leverages the power of enjoyment to yield effortless improvement. We wrap our planning exercises in ritual and ceremony in order to make space for inspiration and sacred genius to arise. Meanwhile, we fully focus our awareness on intending the desired outcome, surrendering to what is, and allowing the circumstances to manifest according to the principle of least action.
Plan your Easeness through playful, intentional rituals.
Play grounds the laboratory.
When work gets hard, it's time to stop. This may contradict the narrative of the military, the empire, the colonist, the capitalist, the monarch, and consequently of business, but research shows across the board that when we endeavor to learn new skills or acquire new habits, we have more success sooner if we keep it fun and take it easy. Ask LeBron James why sleep comes first.
When training our bodies, 80% effort consistently beats 100%. The same goes for our minds. We need adequate rest and recovery to let our upgrades crystallize.
If we acknowledge the ubiquity of the Pareto principle, the story of optimal effort continues to relax. As Pareto would have us observe, in many natural and cultural systems, most of the result comes from the first bit of effort, typically to the tune of 80/20.
If we can achieve 80% results with 20% effort, and the last 20% takes 80% of the effort, when is enough enough? We grease the groove when the impulse arises, while interest holds, and until it feels like work. Then we move on and grease another groove, staying in flow by avoiding the grind.
Ritual perfects our practice.
Life is ceremony, a collection of rituals that shape our sense of self and fashion our feelings.
We stand at the summit, as our ideal self, then plot the path back to now. From such a vaulted vantage, obstacles fail to daunt us, our faults dry up and flake off, and we swell to fill our fresh new skin with a gooey concoction of strength, resilience, and courage.
Concretely speaking, we plan from the desired future backward. The map we draw is not the territory, but it gets us moseying on down the trail every morning.
It's easy to get busy talking about making work about work. We keep our eyes on the prize using the GIST method. We maintain focus on the next task of the current step within the idea most likely to reach our goal, while steadily refining our goals, generating ideas, honing the steps, and defining tasks in rhythmic daily and weekly rituals that include everyone but only when necessary.
Intentional surrender frees us to soar.
An Easeness plan begins with an audit centered on return on intention.
First, we mindmap a tree of intention, beginning with the central mission of our endeavor. For example, with Easeness we aim to bring ease to business.
Which habits and practices are both well-resolved and repetitious? These require no additional intent, so we automate them and let them run as so many daemons in the background.
Which habits and practices bring us no joy? These we can discard, or, at worst, pass to someone who enjoys them. And sometimes a subtle adjustment in perspective that helps us pinpoint and release resistance can allow us to find new joy in what seemed mundane, undesirable, or unpleasant.
Which habits and practices do we fail at, but feel driven to improve? Which hold us hostage? Which fill our sails? Plotting our drives and drains on the motivation continuum can invite piercing insight into how work (or play) makes us feel.
All of these inquiries move us toward the ideal state of easy being. We set intentions with love, then observe them manifesting within and around us. We surrender to what is and allow what dreams may come to emerge from the infinite realm of possibilities. When we focus our awareness on how a change comes about, working hard to make it happen, we lose the majority of our power, which swims in the matrix of shared intention in the collective subconscious.
Hard work is done poorly.
Say you're making a BLT. If the knife doesn't slice the tomato skin, would you rather:
a. smash the tomato with the flat side of the knife?
b. keep sawing until the tomato falls apart?
c. sharpen the knife with a whetstone?
d. drive the knife to the kitchen store at the mall?
e. order sliced tomatoes on Postmates?
f. use another knife that is sharper?
g. bite the tomato?
h. stare longingly at the tomato until someone else slices it for you?
If the goal is to enjoy a sandwich made of bacon, lettuce, and tomato (and mayo and avocado and sourdough toast), then which is the best option? If you are making the sandwich for your lover? For your spouse? For your kiddo? For grandma?
What if the sandwich is a TPS report? Or a pitch deck? Or a birdhouse? When is choosing the hard way helpful?
When does hard work generate more well-being than ease would?
This chain of questions seems to point at the great mystery underlying the folly of business. Why do we hurry? Toward what do we progress? Besides ecological and economic collapse, pandemic heart disease, epidemic obesity, chronic stress and fatigue, generalized anxiety and depression, widespread panic, apocalyptic fantasies, crippling isolation and loneliness, the virtualization of reality and nature themselves, and, of course, missions to Mars.
But what about the damn business plan?
Can you see how a business plan as we typically conceive it today is an exercise in futility? Do you see that doing things the hard way is choosing to suffer when we could choose to enjoy ourself? If not, if you really must insist on a written and detailed plan for your endeavor, I have a suggestion…
Cultivate your plans like a garden.
I learned from Tyson Yunkaporta that as soon as we write down an idea, we kill it dead. Even this little piece was dead when I picked it up again today. And it will be dead when I put it down, when I publish it. Reading it now, you breathe life back into these thoughts and ideas. You may take the bones I've arranged here and imagine a more beautiful creature than I have seen.
So treat your plans well. Don't kill them dead. Sure, write down pieces you want to remember. Draw and refine the contours of your heart-mind's (to borrow Pancho Ramos' parlance) deepest intentions. But remember that the plan is only ever a map, not the territory. That's why I suggest cultivating your plans like a garden. The territory is a verdant plot of fertile heart-mind in the endless center of peaceful silence. With a little water and light, here beauty blooms.