Friday, May 4, 2012

Each. Present. Moment.

This Popper quote appeared in a recent Keep Calm and Carry On calendar. I like it on so many levels! OK, to be more specific, I like it on exactly four levels.

1. Sir Karl Popper is not the easiest guy to read, but I am glad I slogged my way through his Philosophy of Science for Walden University's SBSF 8417. Conjectures, hypotheses, refutations, falsifiability... some of these deep thoughts made my head spin. However, this quote is relatively accessible.

2. This quote presupposes that we can be the makers of our fate. I like that. I like the concept of free will. I'd like to imagine that I have some choice, some say in how my life turns out. I understand life is stochastic, and random good and bad things happen outside my control. Still, the alternative idea that all outcomes are predetermined strikes me as such a defeatist outlook. We can be the makers of our fate. Yes!

3. Popper also says that before we can shape our destiny, we must first stop pretending to know it. In his words, "...cease to pose as its prophets." 

I have certainly enjoyed exercising my skills as a planner:

  • working through detailed branches and sequels in course of action analysis, or 
  • setting up if-then-else contingency tables for decision analysis, or 
  • using the Critical Path Method in project management, or 
  • forecasting results of an improved process in Continuous Process Improvement, or
  • conducting a "murder board" to test the resiliency of a combat OPLAN, or
  • mapping out the timeline for the attainment of my terminal degree.

Plans are useful and good and they certainly have their place. That said, Popper is correct when he points out that we err when we place too much faith in the plans. I have posed as the prophet of my own fate, haven't you?

4. Finally, Popper says, essentially, "Live in the moment." 

  • Use lessons learned from the past to avoid mistakes. 
  • Connect today's actions to long-range goals. 
  • But do not linger in history or trust planned outcomes. 
  • Rather, live in each moment: the present is all we have. 

The best way to shape our future? Stop pontificating! Instead, be fully awake and aware in Each. Present. Moment.