MAN PLANS and GOD LAUGHS

This is a series of essays on...

Apr 20th, 2020

Israel Ellis Headshot

Israel Ellis

MAN PLANS and GOD LAUGHS

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This is a series of essays on the COVID19 impact.  If you find these articles useful please share.

Essay 1:  MAN PLANS and GOD LAUGHS

On February 10th, my wife and I boarded a plane headed for Singapore.   Just days into our trip, the cruise we were going to take landing us in Hong Kong had been canceled.   The beginning of a new world reality was starting to settle in. For the first time, we are becoming aware that “this” might be a problem.  As corona cases rise and countries begin to announce travel restrictions, we make a hasty exit to our next stop, but within a few weeks, the world is a different place.  We are holding tickets to Portugal and Israel for the same day not sure which way to go. When we arrive at the almost deserted airport we opt for neither, instead, we grab the most direct route back to YYZ.  We have been part of the great global lockdown ever since.

So many plans, so many people making them, all over the world, altered in unforeseen ways.   How about your plans?

We are eternal optimists about our tomorrow.  Yet, there will always be twists and turns that can derail the best-laid plans.  Our economy and socialization are based on planning. We plan holidays and parties.  We make financial plans. Retirement plans. We make business plans. We plan based on expectations that the conditions of the future will be the same as today along with some reasonable margin for change. We plan and we plan and we plan some more.  “Man plans and God laughs”, I have not been able to track down the origins of this adage but the phrase seems to best describe the exasperation of a world brought to its knees.

Under the best of circumstances, life tends to interfere with our plans.  There are situations that come up entirely beyond our control. The result is interrupted expectations.  Sometimes serendipity plays its hand in very positive ways;  a chance meeting, for example, that changes your future. Other times, the result can be a difficult loss.   When a situation alters our expectations about the future, our quickness to adapt to the new reality is important to how well we adjust to our new norm existence.   The time it takes us to adjust to the new norm is the “gap” between acceptance and action.  The faster we can move to the stage where we accept the faster we can create a plan of action to move forward.   These plans of action, even in the short term, provide positive momentum. On the flip side, the longer that you exist in stagnation the more displaced you will feel, the potential for a depreciating negative momentum.

The effect of COVID is on such a mass global scale where literally “everyone’s” life is altered in such profound ways concerning their finances, freedoms, emotions, and psychology.  The chaos and unknowns with which the coronavirus has come onto the scene has been mind-blowing. Every day we are waking up to government plans trying to limit its spread; “flatten the curve” is the language used.   Sending our economies into a death spiral. The global effects are unprecedented. For at least anyone alive today, there is nothing in our memories where we can learn from experience.

If someone had told me, that I would be able to take off a few months just hanging out at home and spending quality time with my kids, focused on each other in ways that have been long lost with everyone’s pursuit of their own lives, I would have dreamily said: “that would be great but I could never make that happen – those days are gone”.   And yet, here I am every day at home with our kids, home movies, scrabble, painting, long walks, all our meals at home together. Bowie, our Maltipoo probably thinks he died and went to doggy heaven. An endless buffet of love and affection.

I have gone through the disbelief at the surrealness of all this and have come into some acceptance that this is the way it is for now.  Despite the continued unknowns I am continuing to plan. Albeit, with a number of alternatives in mind. While we may be completely uncertain about the immediate future, we cannot stop to plan.   Planning is about believing in the future and the vision of a future drives us forward. In my book, Moving Through Walls, I talk about visualizing the future as an active practice to keep a positive frame of mind, something the current situation we are all in calls for.

Not sure where this all goes, or how we are going to exit from this lockdown but I am pretty certain that there is no going back to the way things were.  Every major event in humanity leaves its mark and this story is unfolding every day. There is no precision in any predictions. I’m in no rush anyway, just planning one day at a time.

Stay safe, stay healthy.

Israel Ellis is the author of Moving Through Walls (2019), CEO of AdvancePro Technologies, and Co-Founder of 365 Investment Partners.  visit www.israelellis.com

Moving Through Walls contains practices, philosophies, attitudes, and anecdotes that will challenge one’s assumptions and inspire them to commit to new, transformational practices. Israel Ellis takes us on a journey to explore how we limit ourselves when instead we can optimize our potential.

– Barbara


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In Moving Through Walls I have narrowed the answers to four foundational principles. These ideas are tools to achieve the life you want to live. Embrace them and make them your own.

– Israel Ellis

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I wrote Moving Through Walls out of a purpose to share what I have learned.

If you have a deep desire to find that road less travelled to your greatest self. Then you have likely come to the right place.

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THE HERO WALL

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Lets make the HERO WALL happen Be a hero, change the world! Tell your Hero Story Here

Feel good, safe, open, smile, express, learn, experience, hope, dreams, strengthen @ movingthroughwalls.com .

YOU are the hero that will change the world!

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. He came up with the famous six-word story: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Inspired by this story, Larry Smith of SMITH Magazine challenged others to try to write their lives in six words.

I thought this idea was quite the challenge. How could you encapsulate a life in six words? I was struck by both the brilliant simplicity and the enormity of the challenge: sum up the total sense of who I am and what I believe and package it in a six- word micro-memoir.

I was stumped. For several days, I considered what impact these six words would have on how I value myself. Six words does not allow for any excess; it requires the writer to focus in on what is most important. The exercise took on a new challenge for me. I realized it was asking me to distill my life down to my core essential truth.

When I eventually committed my six words to paper, I felt a great wave of relief come over me. I was calmed by its truth: Living my Life on my Terms. In six words, I captured the feeling of the gratefulness I felt and how far I’d come to understand what a gift life is. Every time I see these words they continue to strengthen and inspire me.

Try it yourself. What are your six words?

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A point of caution here: Stories of grievance have a shelf life. There is a point of repetition where you risk becoming a broken record. No one has the patience to listen to the same grievance over and over again. Grievances can also eventually manifest themselves to include things that did not happen. People who have chosen to dedicate their lives to bearing crosses often become so obsessed that they lose the connection to what really happened.

Don’t become trapped in this cycle. You get a limited number of passes before your story of grievance needs to evolve into one of “heroism”—and this is the story you can tell over and over again. No one gets tired of hearing about heroism. It is motivating and positive. A story of overcoming hardship gives strength to others, and every hero deserves to share their story.

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“What I call the four foundations—openness, faith, future, and forgiveness—are principles that we can use to change the way we interact with the world. These foundations will be the topics of Part One of this book. Our perception—how we see the world around us—is shaped by our life experiences. In our earliest years, we form many of the biases we carry throughout our lives; these biases often predict how we react to the world around us and prevent us from making the changes necessary to living our greatest lives. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We all have the potential to become mindful of our biases and loosen their grip upon us. With conscious effort, we can achieve a state of being that aligns with who we want to be, not where we came from.People often say that change starts with altering actions and behaviors, but I believe this statement is a case of mistaking means for ends. We start the change process by having a vision of who we want to be or what we want to accomplish. Only then will our actions and behaviors change to accommodate that vision.”

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Accelerate

"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s a beautiful summer morning on the ocean, and the perfect wave is coming in. You’ve spotted the wave, paddled hard to be in the right position to catch it, and now you are on the top—on the crest. You lean in, commit yourself, and tip the board forward. You invite the surging force of the breaking water to take over, and the result is a massive jolt of acceleration. Looking back, it seems as if everything that happened was pre-destined, there is such perfect harmony between yourself, your purpose, and nature. In that moment, riding atop the surge, is acceleration. 

"I have trust in my intuition, powered by the confidence that comes from past achievements. I have done it before; I can do it again.”

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“Foundation 4: Forgiveness

The final foundation is forgiveness. When an injustice has been perpetrated against you, it can be incredibly difficult to heal and move forward. That said, when we hang on to the anger that resides deep within us, it tarnishes the soul and blurs our ability to envision and realize the future we desire. To move forward, we must prevail and overcome. But how? How do you move on?
The chapter on forgiveness was the hardest and most personal for me to write. For a long time I struggled to forgive people who had hurt me, but in my journey I realized that only through forgiveness can we unlock a future in which we become the best versions of ourselves. That future is worth the discomfort of being vulnerable. ”

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“If you put your best foot forward and do everything within your power, you will come to a place that is your destiny. “Believe” that you are loved. “Believe” that you have value. And “believe” that you are an important part of this vast universe, one that is a far better place because you have chosen to pursue your greatness, and in doing so, have affected the world in ways that you may never become aware of.”

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“If you are meant to be on the path that you are on, the universe will find a way, even when you can’t. When you realize this fact, you will have stumbled upon one of the secret ingredients for success; if you focus on “what” you need to happen—you articulate your goal—the universe will supply the “how.” That is the power of faith. ”

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Accelerators are the fuel for greatness. With every personal and professional project that we commit to and bring to the finish line, we increase the confidence we have in ourselves, the faith that others have in us, and our abilities to achieve larger tasks. But to open those doors, it starts with commitment. It starts with taking the shot. Just do it! as the famous ad campaign goes.

Mrs. Ellison, my grade five teacher, who at the time seemed older than God, would single me out because I did not have my lunch or because my work was not completed. She would hear no excuses. It did not matter to her that at ten years old, I had no one to make me lunch or that I would come to school in pretty bad shape. She would look me straight in the eye, a tremor in her voice, point a shaky finger at me, and say, “Young man, where there is a will, there is a way.”

In retrospect, I have to thank her for her unwavering lack of empathy for me, even if the appropriate action might have been to call a children’s aid society. She drummed that phrase into my head and it stuck. When I find myself in front of what appears to be an impenetrable wall, I recount her words, often saying them out loud in a chant-like fashion.

This mantra has kept me pushing and persevering over the years. There is always a way to move through walls. I have moved through many in my journey, and I will move through more. The commitment to moving through walls reminds me that by keeping stock in my faith and asking the universe to deliver, I will find that crack in the dam and a trickle of opportunity will make its way through to lead me to the next great place on my journey.

Challenging ourselves and pushing the boundaries of what we think we’re capable of is a powerful accelerator. Accelerators related to physical endeavors can be particularly powerful. By persevering through physical discomfort, we learn to access new sources of confidence and motivation. Not to mention, it keeps you looking and feeling great, which is an accelerator all on its own!

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