“Life without a design is erratic. As soon as one is in place, principles become necessary. I think you’ll concede that nothing is more shameful than uncertain and unwavering conduct, and beating a cowardly retreat. This will happen in all our affairs unless we remove the faults that seize and detain our spirits, preventing them from pushing forward and making an all-out effort.” Seneca, Moral Letters.
Eisenhower once said that he found plans to be useless but planning indispensable. Any plan you make is contingent on future events happening (or not happening) that are not fully in your control. A famous Prussian military leader, Helmuth von Moltke, said ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’. As soon as one element of reality changes, then so does your plan.
A plan or design is in effect a map – be it a mental flowchart of what you intend to do. When something changes, having no map to help reorientate yourself leaves you feeling lost and out-of-control. It’s your move but your mind is blank. This is when cowardly retreat enters.