Monday, August 09, 2010

Well-Planned: Summoned as Male: Female?

David Brooks has an interesting column comparing the "well-planned life" with the "summoned life." In the former, people figure out what their priorities are and adjust their plans to reach those priorities. In the latter, people make large commitments without a life plan, then adapt to what each new context requires.

Brooks' point is that the well-planned life is very American, whereas the summoned life is more common in other nations.

It seems to me clear that the well-planned life is a more characteristically male way of thinking about life, whereas the summoned life is more characteristically female.

Brooks concludes "they are both probably useful for a person trying to live a well-considered life." It is hard for me to see how he envisions one person living by both standards, but I can sort of discern it. It is easier for me to see how a family might give full justice to the wisdom of both views, especially if the married couple at the core of the family embrace each in a complementary way.


Victoria Crowell said...

Once again, this resonates with me. Prior to now, I've lived a very planned life where I've thought of goals and sought to obtain them.

Lately, however, some major commitments I've made (i.e. marriage) have presented the possibility of preventing my obtaining them, for the sake of being able to go with the flow of the marriage.

Most of the women I've spoken to seem to find themselves more in the second category, as well, so I think you're right on a gender distinction.

Michael Kruse said...

Not convinced this differs by gender.

In business, you lose if you are simply reactive. But you also lose if you do strategic planning without adaptation. Business consultants now downplay strategic planning in favor of strategic thinking. The are so many unknowns and unanticipated shifts in context in our work that too much planning becomes counter-productive. But we must be continually asking strategic questions as we move through life.

At a higher level, there is the "sense-making" questions we ask through life. As we experience more of life and pass through life-stages, our sense of life shifts. That shifts what we define as strategic.

My point is that I think the healthy life, man or woman, is the endless dance of planning and being summoned. What I suspect may differ is the weight men and women give to various factors that feed into planning and being summoned.