Like thousands of parents and teenagers around the UK on the evening of 13th August we were getting steadily more nervy as results day approached and it would be finally revealed, after months of slogging through A levels, the results that would significantly impact our son, possibly for the rest of his life, definitely for the next four years to come.
Our son had decided that he wanted to study Physical Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. That was it. No other University, no other course. I was secretly pleased that he was so clear in his goal. I’d like to think he researched his options for the best place to study Geography and the open days and taster lectures we both attended were impressive, however, I have a sneaking suspicion his love of Manchester United and season ticket had some bearing on his choice. Perhaps also the fact he would be near enough home to return when hungry, skint and out of clean clothes.
To this end, we did everything we could to support him through the stress of A levels and help him in anyway we could towards his goal. It never really crossed my mind to ask him what Plan B would be should the worst happen and he didn’t get his place.
That is until the night before results day, with nerves a jangling I finally asked, “what’s your plan B?”. ” I don’t have one just a Plan A”. “What will happen if you need a back up then?”. “Then I’ll get a new Plan A”. I loved the way he said this, without hesitation. He went on to explain the steps he had taken to, as much as was within his power, ensure Plan A worked.
Some could say he, and we, were naive and you should always have a back up plan. I used to think this myself but have to be honest I learned a lot from my son that night about the power of having the courage of a conviction.
It led me to wonder how many people and businesses have a Plan B tucked away that can be fallen back on when it all gets too hard. I for one have almost always got a ‘just in case’ scenario worked out.
I’m now thinking that this mindset weakens resolve to fully commit to the most important, and often scary, plan. It is natural though, our brains are wired to keep us safe and we love predictability, sometimes more than the outcome itself so it is understandable that we find comfort in knowing we have a fall-back position to save us from failure, real or perceived.
I wonder how many amazing feats could be achieved if there was never a Plan B only ever a Plan A that just had to be made to work somehow.
Next time I catch myself concocting a safety net for my goal, I’m going to ditch those thoughts and galvanise all my energy and resources to make sure my Plan A works, one way or another.
Our son did achieve his goal and will be taking his place this September, I’m wondering what his new Plan A involves; starting with Freshers in a few weeks time, or maybe I shouldn’t ask!