A Good Enough Vision

It wasn’t a perfect vision but apparently, it was a good-enough vision.

I recently had a rather lengthy conversation with our youngest son trying to provide more explanation for why I had moved across the country. He was genuinely perplexed and likely feeling somewhat abandoned, even though he’s been living on his own for several years. After all, as he reminded me, hadn’t I always said, “Family first”?

I struggled to find the words but started by assuring him that my family is, and always will be, my most important value.

I then went on to explain that for years I had quite willingly put my family first even though my personal vision had always involved wanting to make a difference. 

When, as an empty-nester, I was offered the chance to focus my career on community development and community leadership, I was really interested but not convinced I could move across the country to do the work.

After all, it wasn’t a perfect vision.

While I had an offer of part time consulting work for two years that equated to slightly more than I was currently making full time, there was no safety net, not to mention benefits or pension. Yet, my instincts were also telling me that if I was ever going to let go of the trapeze, it needed to be now. Fortunately I was also blessed with a generous and trusting husband who else felt it was my turn.

I’ve since learned the experts were right. It is true that when you do what you love, the money will follow. Challenging and rewarding consulting opportunities seem to be falling into my lap. Financial security isn’t an issue at all.

The reality though is that I can’t really take much credit. I think it has much more to do with the fact that I’ve also been blessed with a gene that makes it easy for me to live with uncertainty.

Good thing too because in the recent publication, “Getting to Maybe” the authors write, “It is not a good time for control freaks. But it is a good time for those capable of living with uncertainty.”

So while uncertainty isn’t a good thing for control freaks, it is good for those like me who are okay with a little chaos if it means there are opportunities to apply innovation and creativity.

As it turns out, this combination of genetics, trust, and dumb luck has led to me being in the right place at the right time to take advantage of uncertainty and complexity.

It seems that in time of uncertainty, there may be a greater willingness to experiment and try new things perhaps because it is clear the old ways are no longer working.

That’s not to say we don’t need to pay attention to detail and take time to reflect more carefully as we act. Certainly my husband and I also had to do that before we finalized our decision to move across the country.

Regardless, this time of uncertainty and complexity has also meant I’m working with those who are practicing a very different kind of leadership.
For the leaders I’m now working with, it means being okay with not always having the answers. It also means it is much more about facilitating a process that will lead to accessing the wisdom among our colleagues and communities.

It means moving ahead even when the vision is less than perfect knowing that the majority of initiatives are never implemented exactly as planned. Sometimes there is as much, if not more, learning in the mistakes we make along the way.

In times of complexity, which is definitely where we are at these days, we all need to focus on building a vision that is good enough to get the work started. As the work progresses, the vision can be more finely tuned and adjusted. That kind of vision will ensure the work is grounded but also flexible. In other words, as the experts say, “We build the road as we travel, but we never travel without a map”.

Posted on 03-09-08

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