The Vision ThingOctober 2, 2009 Leave a comment
Vision is up. It’s everywhere. President Obama has brought the fine art of visioning to the highest office in this country and is inspiring others to partake in his enticing images of an engaged and service-oriented citizenry as well as in becoming fellow storytellers of a preferred and more hopeful future. Just the other day people I know who work in state government mentioned that they are seeing visionary language on Massachusetts state websites the likes of which were lacking prior to Governor Patrick taking office. And many who have been laboring for years for a more just and sustainable world, sense the window of opportunity that has opened to audaciously put forth their intentions for, and commitment to, a reality that may have seemed unimaginable only last year. Despite (or perhaps because of) the economy, boldness is in!
Which raises the question for me – what makes vision work? I mean, what really makes it take? For every group or person I work with who gets excited about personal and organizational visioning, there is another who sees the endeavor as being lightweight and fluffy. “Where’s the beef?” they want to know. Where’s the action? How does intention become invention?
An answer has been emerging for me as I’ve been experimenting with some personal visioning, witnessing others, as well as perusing the writings of a few thinkers and practitioners on the subject. Perhaps this is best summed up by the idea that it is best to live from one’s vision as opposed to towards it. In other words, vision becomes especially powerful, not only when it raises the goose bumps and tickles the mind, but when we can TASTE IT, when there is some sense of being able to embody some part of it NOW. This is not to say that we can instantaneously and completely manifest our intentions (what’s the challenge in that?), but there is something to assuming that a seed is already present and growing. Consultant Peter Block speaks to this in his book Community: The Structure of Belonging, when he writes about the power of convening groups and conversations today that are in some sense an embodiment of the future they hope to create. What can we do today, he asks, that has something of tomorrow in it? How we talk to one another, who we talk to, what we are willing to talk about . . . .
For me, powerful visioning has been taking place around the creation of a Sustainability Practice that brings IISC’s resources to serving those striving to ensure that we have a hospitable planet for generations to come. Beyond naming the intention, I’ve been trying to live out the vision in every conversation I have with potential partners, attempting to bring some value to each of those exchanges. Low and behold, it is taking! And so I am learning, the future is now. And I want to hear from others about what makes or has made vision work for you . . .