Monday, August 29, 2011

Geometry and the "Whats" and the "Hows"

When I was in high school, I was a pretty good math student.  Unfortunately, I need my calculator to figure out the tip now, but anyway....I used to be an “A” student in this area.
I particularly loved Geometry because the answers seemed to fit so neatly in place if you could just figure out the right “formula” to use.  Once you found the right formula, you just plugged things in and it worked.  I loved the simplicity of it.
I had a very patient Geometry teacher who would put up with my daily ritual at the end of each class.  With no syllabus as in college, I asked the same question every day at the end of class, “what are we doing next, Mr. Saito?”
He would smile and, I guess because I was a good student (and I offered to be one of the only girls in the math club...mostly so I could make cookies for our math meets), he would tell me what was next.
I needed to know what was next....every day.  Now that’s a control freak, but it’s how I made things work.  The “what” was my goal of getting a good grade in the class.  The “how” was knowing what was next so I could read ahead and not be surprised by anything.  I never wanted to be caught off guard.
So, I read this piece that I have summarized below and it made me realize that in life, you might know the “what”, that is, your dream or vision or goal.  Most of the time, you don’t know the “how”.  You may think you do, but things always seem to surprise us. 
In a way, if you know exactly what’s going to happen, it’s not much fun.  It’s more secure, but it’s not real and it’s not living or growing.
Life is not Geometry and though that can make me very anxious sometimes, riding the waves, if you let yourself, can be a much more wonderful experience.

As Tara writes below, if you spend too much time worrying about the “how”, you may never get to the “what”.

The Whats and The Hows

Goals have "what-questions" and "how-questions." "What-questions" are questions like these: What is my dream? What do I want? What would be fulfilling, amazing, thrilling? Who do I want to be?
"How-questions" include questions like these: How will I get there? What is my strategy? How long will it take? How much money will I need? What resources, skills, or partners will I need?

In short, the what is about what you want to create. The how is about how you'll get there.

Here's what happens to many of us: the minute we start thinking about "the what" we get attacked by thoughts about "the how." That lovely, inspiring idea or dream strikes. We start thinking about it, painting the picture in our mind, basking in it, enjoying it. Then, the how thoughts descend--often in a fearful tone--and overwhelm us.

Put The Hows on Hold
Early on, "the how" is opaque, confusing. It is absolutely an unknown. Contrary to what we think, we need to tread into how-territory carefully and consciously, in order to protect our vision and inspiration.

Whatever how-questions showed up with your goals, try putting them on hold for a while. Just spend time with your vision.
For most of us, how-thinking, done too early, kills vision and inspiration. Baby dreams have a gestation period, and how-thinking is a toxic substance for them.

 When Is It Time to Move On to the How?

You'll know. It's time to approach the hows when you feel really connected to the what. When you do introduce how thinking, ask yourself two questions:
1.  Am I inviting in how-thinking or is it attacking me?
2.  What's the tone of my how thinking? How-thinking can be done with fear and worry, or it can be done from a place of commitment and creativity.