“Maintaining clarity of vision is an essential difference between those who conceive and realize great ideas and those who simply conceive great ideas,” it says here.
That quote is from Carol Lloyd, author of CREATING A LIFE WORTH LIVING: A Practical Course in Career Design for Artists, Innovators and Others Aspiring to a Creative Life, a book that first came out in 1997.
The book’s been through four editions since then.
I’m re-reading my dog-eared, marked-up, well-worn copy of it again. It’s like visiting an old friend.
In the book, Lloyd does an in-depth interview with Loretta Staples. At the time, Staples was an established software designer and visual communications expert focused on designing graphical user interfaces and helping to develop prototypes for emerging technologies.
Besides her work with Apple computer, she had her own San Francisco-based design consultancy, U dot I. She was also working with Scient Corp., one of the top eBusiness strategy consultant firms of the time that got whacked down by the hammer of the implosion of the dotcom bubble a few years down the road.
(Click the button to access a Fast Company article by Keith H. Hammonds about the company and the times. It was published in 2000 and is an insightful read.)
Since then, Staples has gone on to build a second and then a third career as an artist and educator, and then as a therapist at Rushford, an agency providing addiction and mental health services, and in private practice in New Haven.
A fascinating woman. The course of her life lends gravitas to the quote from her that Lloyd shares: “If you are clear about what you want the world responds with clarity.
THE TROUBLE WITH “POTENTIAL” AND HOW TO GET PAST IT
All of this got me to thinking about another quote. This one’s from the late George Leonard, once called “the third founder” of the Esalen and one of the giants of the Human Potential Movement.
Leonard said, “Whatever your age, your upbringing, or your education, what you are made of is mostly potential.”
The trouble with “potential” is that if you are only Potential and you don’t do anything with any of it, then you are sort of nebulous. People don’t know how to connect with you.
After all, nobody can hold hands with a galaxy. You do have to bring it down to human.
The way you do that is by choosing – by making decisions. You have to create the self you want to be.
This is never easy. In fact, it can get downright painful.
Decisions mean cutting off some of your possibilities so that you can be in the world with people you like.
What you keep is what makes you become a person other people can relate to as well as a person they can help.
In this “víderacy: spark your interest” YouTube video, published in 2015, author Todd Henry tells the story of how musician Amos Heller’s key career decision that led him to being Taylor Swift’s bass player.
Henry wrote the book LOUDER THAN WORDS: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice. (That one’s another keeper, by the way.)
CHANGE HAPPENS ONE CHOICE AT A TIME, BUT….
Christine DeLorey, a masterful numerologist and philosopher whose signature book, LIFE CYCLES: Your Emotional Journey to Freedom and Happiness, is another of my favorites.
It’s one of those reference books that you can use over time to help you think on and integrate your own life into a semblance of sense.
DeLorey uses the ancient system of numerology to think on the big life-questions and uses the answers she has discovered to help you build what she calls “your framework of potential” so you can create the life you want to live.
What she did was explain the numerological meanings of the numbers from one to nine and explained what they mean to you and your life.
She tied these numbers to the calendar, categorizing dates by adding together all the numbers in a date to find its numerological number.
To use the book, you figure out your personal “destiny” number using the numbers of the day you were born and then you figure out what the number is for the year and then for the month you are currently experiencing.
Basically, DeLorey devised an oracle (and a framework) that guides you in looking at life and what is happening to you at any given time.
I have used it as a catalyst that guides my questions about myself, my life and the world.
On the last day of every month I dip into the book and read about the section for the next month.
DeLorey’s thoughts for that month becomes the theme for the month I am living. I look at my life and see whether what she says could be happening (numerologically) really does happen in real life.
The way the book is set up, this way of playing takes nine years to complete.
In its way, it is a course and a curriculum.
Yeah, yeah…it sounds really woo-woo, but, I have to tell you, the thing works well as a structured way for working on exchanging unproductive mindsets for ones that help you walk more effectively in the world.
In one of her riffs about making choices and decisions, she talks about the times when you wiffle-waffle back and forth as you consider whether a particular change of course is what you want or not.
Says DeLorey, “The choices you make should be based on your feelings about the situation along with a conscious understanding of the probable outcome of your choices.”
I say that when you’ve jumped all-unknowingly on a fast-moving, twisty horse and find yourself heading off in all directions at once, you know a decision MUST be made.
You probably also get the gut-wrenching feeling that any decision you make is going to take courage.
That’s because it’s right about then that the fear-engine in your gut starts revving up, and maybe you start thinking that you should just jump off the bucking horse and sit there in the dust….again.
This happens, most smarty-pants and wise-guys say, because you are very much aware of how one change can create a chain reaction of many changes.
One of the coolest examples of chain reactions is this YouTube video published by Hevesh 5 in 2017, “250,000 Dominoes – The Incredible Science Machine: GAME ON!”
It features the climax of a live domino project sponsored by Zeal Credit Union and organized by professional domino/chain reaction artists Steve Price and Lily Hevish. Nineteen builders from five countries spent seven days and over 1,200 combined hours to build the thing.
The event achieved three new US domino records at the time: largest domino field, largest domino structure and largest overall domino project in America.
And that’s the deal, isn’t it?
Choices have consequences. Choices can topple empires.
But, the takeaway lesson of this and other domino-building efforts is this: Humans can influence and turn all that toppling into meaningful works of art and maybe into meaningful lives as well, one little bit at a time.
Sometimes they can even have a grand bit of fun with it.
It all comes down to being clear, all the way down to your toes, about what you are trying to achieve and what results you want to see happen.
CLARITY = FOCUS
This YouTube Video, “How Clarity of Purpose Focuses Decision-Making” was published in 2017 by Storyforge, an organization that helps “founder-led businesses forge their meaningful story.”
The organization was co-founded by Haley Boehning and Barry Chandler. They work on helping other people build purpose-driven businesses.
In the video, Chandler talks about putting a “stake in the ground” and how knowing what you stand for and where you are going helps to make coming to a decision much, much easier.
CLARITY AS FILTER
One of my favorite visionaries and deep thinkers is Simon Sinek who is probably best known for popularizing the concept of starting with WHY. His first TED talk in 2009 became the third most-watched talk of all time, it says here.
In this 2012 YouTube video, “How do I use the Why as a decision filter?,” Sinek considers how you can use your own “why” to help you make decisions that align with your values.
When I am trying too hard to come to some sort of decision or other and I’m wandering around in a fog of angst, feeling confused and suffering over my own suffering, I tend to jump back on my Ho’o-Cycle and take this test:
HO’O-CYCLE TEST FOR LIFE-DECISIONS
Ho’opuleo’o: Does this action I am considering support the values and vision I have developed?
Ho’opaepae: Is this action the most graceful/effective/skillful way I can walk now?
- Does this action give me the freedom/time/space I need to play my way?
- Is this the proper time to take this action? If so, why? If not, why not?
- Does this action help me walk without stumbling?
- Can I move freely and well if I take this action now?
The reason I do this is because I made up the test my own self after years of suffering from the 2x4s swung by Life-Its-Own-Self bonking me on the head. I’m all kinds of proud of the thing and, f’r real, answering the Ho’o-Cycle questions when I’ve got a tough decision to make does help me get to my own sort of clarity.
(If you click on “Ho’o-Cycle” and on the funny-looking Hawaiian-name lead-ins for each set of questions, you can learn more about them and about my Ho’o-Cycle.)
Here’s a poem:
STILL SHAKIN’, WALKIN’ BOSS….
Here I go…
Doing yet another kata
In the middle of
Yet another earthquake.
Trying to find my stance again
As the ground on which I stand
Gets cut away…again.
And here’s a familiar thought:
Maybe all of this
Posturing and posing is
Just another exercise in futility.
What do you do
When you find out
Your world is
Just an airball?
Think balloons, I suppose.
by Netta Kanoho
Header Picture credit:. “The Skip (as in “It’s a hop, a skip, and a jump”) by Alan English CPA via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
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