Plan B

by Sherry Heuser

Spring arrived in my neck of the woods by Groundhog Day. Our local groundhog predicted an early spring…no surprise to us, it was already here. We tackled outdoor projects, swapped out the clothes in our closets, and made warm-weather plans. Then, it snowed. So much for our freshly painted patio furniture, sundresses, and back porch gatherings; it was winter again. It felt like a cruel trick, ruining everything. But, after the initial shock, we realized our patio furniture would look just as good in a few weeks, our sundresses could mix with tights, boots, and sweaters, and cozy dinners indoors with friends are still soul-filling. In each case, our Plan B turned out to be acceptable, even rewarding. And, more than once, it was even better than our original idea. What made the difference? A willingness to try, a recognition that resiliency is strength, a focus on the ultimate goal.

In rethinking recent challenges, I have discovered that a major, short-notice change in the family schedule opened up an unexpected vacation opportunity. A friend’s mid-process revelation caused her to scrap a significant part of her kitchen renovation, resulting in an even-better remake of her entire first floor. A “not this, not now” response from a prospective donor led an organization I serve to have a deeper conversation about “what and when”, leading to a stronger funding partnership in the months and years to come.

It isn’t always linear, though—a Plan A that falls through doesn’t necessarily lead straight to a better Plan B. But that shouldn’t keep you from thinking about it, trying an option, then thinking and trying again if needed. I read somewhere (when I find it, I will give credit!) that it’s essential to have a good Plan A and Plan B, but there are also a lot more letters in the alphabet, so don’t fret if you have to move on to another one to find the right plan.

Bottom Line: When a plan falls through, a healthy helping of persistence and dose of creativity will help you move beyond disaster to your best Plan B.

Sherry Heusers president of Capability Company Consulting, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm supporting nonprofit organizations' searches for key hires.

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