“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Leaders are advised to create and communicate a compelling vision. I agree.
You Don’t See Your Vision? Don’t Fret
But where does vision come from? If we are open and courageous, we hear the vision calling; or feel it’s pull; or see it in our mind’s eye. We may even find it in within our own resistance.
Wander in Wonder
Dr. Jim O’Connell, is a “visionary” who has created a world renowned model for bringing medical treatment to the homeless mentally ill. O’Connell’s visionary route began while he was wandering in wonder, aimlessly, around the world, because he had no idea what he wanted to do or be. While wandering in a rural area, O’Connell witnessed a gruesome motorcycle accident. He stayed with, comforted, and listened to the injured driver until help arrived. O’Connell recalls feeling at ease and comfortable in this role. “It made me really wish I could help fix his leg.”
Feel and Follow What Calls You
O’Connell felt his calling. He enrolled in medical school, but not so easily. With no science background, he had to take all the prerequisite courses. Several schools told him he was too old to apply. At 30 years old O’Connell began medical school at Harvard.
Finding Your Vision in What You Love
So began his long love affair with the study and practice of medicine. O’Connell chose oncology and won a coveted fellowship to Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Finding Your Vision In Your Resistance
His chief of medicine had other plans for our visionary in the making. The chief asked O’Connell to put off his fellowship and spend one year as the full-time doctor for a new homeless program in Boston. The program was also home to many mentally ill patients who were former full time residents of state psychiatric hospitals - not exactly what O’Connell had in mind for his practice. He felt derailed, but felt he had to say yes and did so with great reluctance.
Do As the Wise Elders Say
The shelter nurses were unimpressed with O’Connell’s pedigree and assigned him to soaking the swollen, damaged feet of shelter residents. At this point, he knew he’d made a terrible mistake.
Be Humble in the Presence of Your Vision
Mentally ill patients often resist medical treatment. After tending the feet of one such resident for over a month, the man spoke to O’Connell for the first time. “Hey, I thought you were supposed to be a doctor?’” O’Connell replied, ‘Yeah.” The patient retorted, ‘Well, what the hell are you doing soaking feet?” O’Connell, “I have no idea, but I’m doing whatever the nurses tell me to do.” At that point the man began accepting O’Connell’s advice for treating physical and mental health problems.
Build Your Vision, Step by Step
With this simple interaction O’Connell’s vision revealed itself more fully. Today his model for treating the homeless is used world wide. Boston Health Care for the Homeless has a network of clinics throughout the city and a 77,000-square-foot medical complex that includes a pharmacy, dental clinic, long-term care facility and end-of-life care, giving homeless people a safe, dignified place to die.
7 Steps to Letting Your Vision Find You
- Don’t fret. Your vision will reveal itself.
- Wander with wonder around your favorite questions, people, places and situations
- Listen to and follow what calls you
- Fall in love with your calling
- Explore your own resistance
- Do as the wise elders say. “Soak their feet.”
- Be Humble
- Build, step by step
For more guidance on vision, I recommend:
Whitney Johnson Where There’s a Why, There’s a Way
Jesse Lyn Stoner The Last Thing You Need is a Vision