A plan is important, but life ebbs and flows and that makes the actual plan a fleeting thing. It’s the act of planning that is indispensable. In today’s post, we look at the David and at the cathedral in Malaga, Spain to yield their lessons in planning and flexibility.
Plan Goal: Carve a statue of David to grace the roof line of the Florence cathedral
Michelangelo sculpted The David from 1501-1504, yet the project was commissioned in 1464, before Michelangelo was even born! The marble block was procured and an artist, Agostino, received the commission. He only worked on it for two years and made little progress. Ten years later, another artist, Rossellino was given a contract to finish it. That plan didn’t work out either. Fully 26 years later, Michelangelo convinced the Florence government to give him the contract.
Finally, after 40 years, the plan was fully executed. They had the sculpture.
But, even then, plans changed. The sculpture, intended to be installed on the roof line of the cathedral, was too heavy at 6+ tons. Many options were considered and finally it was placed outside the government buildings (which took 4 days to move the half mile) where it remained for more than 350 years.
Plan Goal: Build a complete cathedral
The cathedral in Malaga is a beautiful baroque-style church, started in 1528, and has yet to be completed. To be fair, it’s almost finished, but in 1782, construction ceased, with the South tower a few meters shy of the North tower.
The locals call the cathedral “La Manquita” meaning “the one armed lady”.
In this case, we Americans are to thank for this plan going awry. A plaque at the base of the tower says that the money raised by the parish to finish it was used to help the United States gain their independence from Great Britain instead.
That plan worked out for the U.S. but the plan to finish the cathedral was never fully executed.
Who could have foreseen that happening?
Plan: The Leadership Lesson
Both of these examples show how fleeting a plan can be, yet how important it is to adjust and keep moving forward.
I like this quote from Warren Buffett “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
We have important work to do, and set-backs cannot become our brick walls. Plans will always change and we need the fortitude to keep going. In my post, How’s That New Year’s Resolution Going?, I talk about the cycle of start strong, lose momentum, give up.
What if the Florence government gave up after two artists failed to deliver the David sculpture they wanted? The world would not have the David to admire. I mean, seriously people, look at the details on just the hand. It looks real! I am not an art person, and I got misty-eyed at the beauty of this sculpture.
What if the parishioners in Malaga decided that their cathedral was more important than some far-off war for independence? Could the money they provided to the U.S. have been the amount that turned the tide in our favor?
Point is, we don’t know where our projects will go when we begin them. But if they are important enough to begin, then they are important enough to finish. No one knows for certain the twists that life will take while executing a plan and isn’t that what makes life such an adventure?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: “It takes real planning to organize this kind of chaos” Mel Odom