I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many visionaries over the years. People who believe in world transformation. People who are dedicated to the conscious evolution of our world, specifically into one that’s more compassionate, expansive, harmonious and just.
In that time, I’ve come to identify a certain set of beliefs and practices these visionaries hold (or could’ve held) to actualize their visions. As we get deeper into the year, when now more than ever we’re seeing a wavering between old consciousness — a worldview rooted in fear, judgment, scarcity, separation — and a new consciousness based on love, compassion, abundance and harmony, it’s become extremely important for visionaries to integrate these beliefs and practices as we bring our visions of the world to life.
“That’s unrealistic.” As visionaries, we take pride in and apply our intelligence, experience and creative abilities toward our visions. We dedicate ourselves to a reimagining of an old system or an entirely new creation, making sure as best we can the vision is viable, workable and sustainable amid uncertainty. So when we hear “unrealistic,” especially from esteemed figures in our fields and communities or the intended audiences we’re looking to serve, it can trigger underlying doubt and become demoralizing if not addressed.
We need to trust ourselves and our fundamental creative impulses. We have to remind ourselves of the time and energy we’ve spent in fleshing out and tightening up the vision in light of no precedent, model or example. As intelligent, wise and creative people, we wouldn’t have made that investment if we didn’t believe the vision was possible and worth it. It is precisely because it hasn’t been done or presented before that many can’t see what we can see, give up or shun the vision, and meet us with that cutting pushback of “unrealistic.”
Despite not being able to look at history for examples that our particular visions will materialize, we still have history on our side. For those who’ve created new thriving systems and obsoleted dysfunctional ones; for those who’ve carried out revolutions; for those who’ve ascended to the highest positions at organizations, companies and nations in unprecedented fashion, they’ve all been met with “unrealistic.” Yet, as history shows, they’ve made their visions real, and realistic.
Get wise on disagreement
It is in our nature to make sure the vision is tight. That we’ve covered every angle, challenge and ambiguity that shows up. Although this may embolden our conviction, we need to be wary of becoming defensive in fear of criticism, misunderstanding or public attacks. We run risk of depleting our time and energy trying to imagine every possible form of opposition we could face and every possible defense against that hypothetical opposition. What’s worse, we run risk of not proceeding with our visions at all as a result.
The key here is to discern which forms of opposition we’ll entertain. There is criticism that points us to flaws or blind spots, which helps us refine our visions. There’s also criticism that sheds light on other approaches and ways of envisioning the world which, despite clashing with ours, expand the world with possibility.
And then there’s the criticism with the sole intention of squashing the vision simply because the detractor doesn’t have one, makes erroneous assumptions, or resists change entirely. If there’s a lack of civility and substance being brought to the table in return, we can leave them where they are.
Bottom line, people are going to respond or react to our visions when we share them, but we are not responsible for the ways in which they do. Should we choose to entertain them, we must choose wisely.
Beware the allure of the old
It can be quite tempting to throw personal attacks when we’re being met with personal attacks. It can be hard to resist using intimidation when force seems like the answer at the time.
New consciousness, however, will never thrive playing old consciousness’ game. Using fear, shame and force to transcend a paradigm rooted in fear, scarcity, judgement and separation into one of love, abundance, compassion and harmony is not logically or ethically possible. While it may appear to work in the short run, often exemplified by a perceived “win,” it is never sustainable and often short-lived.
If we want long-lasting shifts in consciousness, it’s going to take a real commitment on our end to evolve a new consciousness with new tactics and ways to respond (not react) to old tactics. It demands that we embody the vision.
Discern between awareness and stuckness
It is necessary to develop an awareness of the issues we’re trying to fix or solve when fleshing out our visions. Much of, if not all, the time the awareness is what leads to our having the visions in the first place. We want to be in the know about the injustice, inequality, inefficiency and overall dysfunction that exists for the sake of our visions. We want to get as much information about what it is that we’re trying to reimagine or evolve to ensure the viability, workability and sustainability of the vision.
We have to be mindful, however, of just how much we get caught up in the problems, and lose track of the solutions or intentions our visions hold. Awareness begets confidence that we’re priming ourselves for the vision. Stuckness begets deflation and overwhelm. We can focus on what’s wrong with what is to the point that we lose track of what we know in our core is possible. It’s here that we feel the density of the problems so much that we get stuck in them, and lose the prime opportunity to move on and soar with our visions.
Keep attention on intentions
Instead of getting stuck in the problems, we can use them as a springboard for the development and realization of the vision. That’s why it’s incumbent upon us to keep our visions front and center at all times, not the problems. Whenever the going gets rough, and it will, we need to summon the intentions embedded in our visions to strengthen our resolve and strategy in seeing them through.
Hearing about a move toward more mass incarceration, for example, could dishearten the prison abolitionist, especially with all the gains toward decarceration made in recent years. Yet, instead of dwelling in disappointment, one can use the contrast between what they want and what’s happening to pivot back toward the vision of what our justice system (and world) would look like with a redemptive, rehabilitative and healing approach to justice, as well as how to best get there. Attention on intentions helps the visionary step (back) into and stay in the vision, which is crucial in moving it forward.
In times of adversity, we’re constantly told: “We can’t afford to mourn.” “We don’t have time to rest.” Listen, we can afford to mourn; we do have time to rest. In fact, it’s imperative that we pause and allow whatever we’re feeling to surface as well as a healthy dose of restoration. It enables us to accept where we are, process what is happening outside and inside of us, refresh and regroup, and proceed with wise action, an absolute must in realizing our visions.
The more we resist what comes up for us as we work toward carrying out our visions and the more we resist our need to nourish and restore our minds, bodies and souls, the more it will show up in obstructive or destructive ways. When we don’t pause, we run on a depleted tank of gas, not having enough to carry out the full journey of our visions. We don’t have enough patience, compassion, passion and drive to see our visions through. We become susceptible to avoiding the unpleasant feelings that arise by numbing with various substances or actions, or lashing out in ways that are incongruent with our visions, needlessly setting us off our paths.
Remember, it is precisely the kind of self-acceptance and self-care derived from pausing that makes it actually part of the work to carry out the vision, not a departure from the work.
In short, bringing paradigm-shifting visions to life is no small feat. What they ask of us is a rigorous commitment to personal and world transformation that’s not for the faint of heart. But those called to the undertaking are not faint of heart. We are champions of possibility, boldly proclaiming who we are and what we’re capable of with a tremendous amount of heart. Let’s continue to answer the call to forge a new path for our world.