How Long is a Piece of String?


I’ve heard that phrase two or three times this week, which seems to be another way of saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t give you an answer’!


What it has made me realise is that I am not that comfortable with uncertainty. I think I must be one of those near perfect project planners whose constant mantra is ‘failing to plan means planning to fail‘ (a quote attributed to both Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill!).


In a similar vein, many years ago, my NLP Master Practitioner colleague, Tim Gunning suggested that:

  1. Always have a plan

  2. Nothing goes according to plan.

I guess both pieces of advice can hold true at the same time and they set the frame for uncertainty!


So what makes me so uncomfortable with uncertainty? It’s not like I never do anything spontaneous or that I always have my life planned to the nth degree…and I like surprises.


Is it because ‘how long is a piece of string’ might mean costs or time are about to get out of control? Does it mean something is outside of my control and reliant on others? Or is it simply that I just feel more comfortable knowing whether I need to bring a clutch bag or a suitcase to fit the string into?


Who knows? it is something I will be pondering more over the next few days and perhaps I will try on various scenarios to get out of my own way and become more comfortable with not knowing how long the piece of string might be!

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