To finish any given project and make meaningful progress, we apply two different modes of operation. I like metaphors and call them clockmaker mode and clockwork mode. It would also be perfectly fine to label them smart mode and dumb mode or planning mode and execution mode.
The point is that both modes alone are worthless for real progress. Only a combination of both gets essential stuff done.
The clockmaker mode is about defining goals, asking the right questions, reflecting about your course of action, evaluating outcomes, and, most important, laying out the plan for clockwork mode.
Clockmaker mode is about navigation. It’s about finding out the place where you want to go with whatever you do. Its purpose is to set a course for your destination.
Clockmaker mode needs time, honesty, and free thought.
Clockwork mode means to take all the necessary steps to get you where you want to be. It is about ticking all the boxes on your to-do list and making all the tiny steps that will lead you to your goal.
In clockwork mode, it’s not about navigation as you already know your course. It is about traveling the distance.
Clockwork mode needs discipline and the will to push through uncomfortable times because you know where it leads you.
It’s always better to be part of a clockwork that you created or at least helped to create, so you know where you are heading.
The Right Balance
Smart mode and dumb mode need each other. The one provides the plan, and the other provides the action to make it happen.
Each one of them alone makes your whole endeavor and life miserable. People who are in smart mode all the time only talk without ever doing something. The others who are in a permanent dumb mode, work all the time without the feeling of accomplishment and are very likely to burn out.
It would be best if you had a healthy balance of planning and execution to go where you want to go. Define a goal, make a plan, work towards it, check if you are heading in the right direction, and adjust course if necessary.
If you create a dance piece, clockmaker mode is answering the questions of what the piece is about and why you want to do it. Clockwork mode is creating the choreography, choosing the music, fix all the dates and so on.
In event management, smart mode is defining if you throw a jam or battle, who to invite, what program to plan, what you can offer to sponsors and so on. Dumb mode is contacting all the sponsors, asking the guys if they want to come, booking flights, doing all the things at the event itself. In short: making it happen.
None of the two modes has any worth without the other. Find your balance and start your journey.