The other day I was reminded to play chess, not checkers. I heard and used that saying myself, so it came as a shock to hear them used back at me! Was I not following my own advice? Did I fail to pick up on whatever opportunity arose from my activities?
Freemasonry teaches the subtlety of self-realization by way of self-improvement. In a perfect world I would stop there and just meditate on that above sentence for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, who has time to meditate just on that? Right? I challenge myself and all who read this to change perception and make this a priority. Self-realization comes by way of self-improvement. Success in the future comes by way of developing ourselves now.
Proper planning, the discipline of defining goals, and maintaining a personal ritual remain very powerful tools in our personal toolkit. If ritual itself is so important to Freemasons, why do we take it for granted? There isn’t a question of whether or not there will be ritual, the more accurate question becomes which ritual should we open and close lodge with tonight? Readers might recognize that some jurisdictions have optional passages of ritual that aren’t required all the time. We plan ahead for that opening and closing of the lodge, we plan ahead to prepare ourselves mentally to enter a sacred space, and we plan ahead to actively participate even if we sit on the sidelines.
Proper planning might sound like a lofty goal for someone who tends toward spontaneity, and for some this is a challenge. I like to use the analogy of the NFL draft in such instances. If we boil it down to simple terms, we find three pros and three cons to any draftee or in this case any situation. We write down three pros and write down three cons, then we walk away for a while. Maybe we move on to another task to return to this planning or decision at a later time. We find that writing down the pros and cons gives us a chance at an enhanced perspective, and often the decision becomes obvious.
My version of the NFL draft doesn’t begin to cover the depth of management training, short and long term planning, leadership development, and other such teachings, yet it serves me well for decisions that might have an emotional attachment. I may want to choose one path, but the perspective of writing down the top three pros and cons for that decision gives me clarity toward which path is best at that time. This simple mind game of writing down the pros and cons sets me up for later success in making the optimal choice while giving me perspective and time to consider my options. It allows me to play chess, not checkers, in taking time to visualize my future moves.
Longer term planning becomes a game of fill in the blanks after we define a timeline or similar parameter. I know that when a project gets a green light to proceed, that I need a plan in place to make it successful. I know I need a goal, and maybe I can subdivide that goal. If the Junior Deacon wants to have a competition Lodge Bowling League for example, the current Worshipful Master would be wise to schedule a few social nights at the local bowling alley. The current Senior Warden would be wise to plan to set into motion regular bowling practice sessions during his term as Worshipful Master. Now the Junior Warden implements his plans based on the success set up by the senior officers. The Junior Warden’s dream of a competition bowling league has a much better chance of success when the plan is created and executed than just springing it on the Brethren after the Junior Warden advances to the Master’s chair in the East.
The above is a simplistic example. If your lodge wants to be successful in an event, having people show up and stand around is useless. Having people show up over time to implement an incremental plan leading into a longer-term goal suddenly sounds more productive. Well, it does to me anyway.
Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a bachelor's Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30-plus years of teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy is a 32nd-degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.