Many live lives too small for their spirits

Stand-up comic Anita Wise had this to say, “I’m a little upset. I just found out I have to have this little procedure done. Nothing complicated, but they tell me it is going to improve my vision about 70 percent. But I’m a little nervous. I hate getting my bangs cut.”

I’m glad to hear Anita Wise is improving her vision. But how is your vision? I’m not asking about the condition of you eyes, but the clarity of your focus. I’m not asking whether you have 20/20 vision, but whether your mind’s eye, your imagination, is clearly focused on a dream.

You see, many live lives too small for their spirits. Our spirit and potential are infinite. They know no bounds. So, why is it so many of us choose to live mediocre lives? Perhaps we haven’t learned to see with our mind’s eye, our imagination. When we use our mind’s eye, we open the door to infinite possibilities. For imagination allows us to see beyond what is to what could be. By focusing not on what we are, but what we can become, we discover the key to unlocking our potential.

Look within to gain insight. For as Carl Jung (1875 ~ 1961) wrote, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” Pick your dream carefully because we can become no larger than our vision. The size of your dream limits the size of your accomplishments. Although poor eyes limit what we can see, poor vision limits what we can do.

Instead of tuning into the TV, tune into yourself. Tune into your dreams and aspirations. To grow, plants stretch to reach the sun, and your hopes and dreams are the sun that nourish your growth. Also, heed the words of Harriet Du Autermont: “No vision and you perish / No Ideal, and you’re lost / Your heart must ever cherish / Some faith at any cost. / Some hope, some dream to cling to / Some rainbow in the sky / Some melody to sing to / Some service that is high.”

Our vision, then, is like a map that shows our destination. Once we know we want to go, we can work backwards, figuring out what roads to take to get us safely to our destination. After we know which way we wish to go, things start to happen. Without a map, or vision, we cannot predict our future, but with a map, we become seers. We can see into the future because we knowingly create it. However, as the Japanese say, “Vision without action is a daydream and action with without vision is a nightmare.” After all, action without vision is action for action’s sake. It is misdirected, for it doesn’t take us where we wish to go.

Once we envision the person we wish to become, how to we step into it, putting it on like a new set of garments? The following six steps will get you where you wish to be.

1. Take a look at where you are today and compare that to where you wish to be. List the qualities you need to become the person you wish to be.

2. List the steps you can take to develop those qualities in you.

3. List the qualities you now have that are holding you back.

4. List the steps you can take to develop qualities that are opposite to those that are holding you back.

5. Take the actions you have outlined in steps #2 and 4.

6. Check your progress daily and take corrective action when necessary to stay on course.

Let’s look at an example. Tom has been working for a year as a clerk in an office and dreams of moving up the ladder by becoming a supervisor, later a manager, and eventually a member of senior management. He are the steps he has taken to start on his journey.

1. He examines his strengths and weakness and decides some of the qualities he needs include the ability to inspire others, better communication skills, and a better understanding of the overall goals of the company he works for.

2. He lists steps he can take. Realizing that he cannot inspire others until he is inspired, he decides to do his absolute best with every assignment the company gives him. By doing so, he will become inspired by his own achievements. Also, he decides to take a public speaking course to improve his communication skills. Finally, he plans to carefully read the company newsletter and bulletins to fully understand company goals, and he will ask questions whenever he needs clarification.

3. Tom believes his habits of wasting time and procrastination are holding him back.

4. To quit wasting time he will read and apply what he learns from books on time management and organizational skills. To end procrastination, he will develop the self-discipline to start working on each new task as soon as it arrives.

5. He takes action, carefully taking the steps he outlined in #2 and 4.

6. He monitors his activities daily to make sure he stays on course.

If we continually focus on our vision, it will enflame us with passion. And that passion, or fiery enthusiasm, will propel us past self-doubt, fear, and complacency. It will fill us with hope. It will keep us inspired. Peter Schultz, former CEO of Porsche, gives an example of the differences between ordinary workers and one that is inspired, “Three people were at work on a construction site. All were doing the same job, but when each was asked what the job was, the answers varied. ‘Breaking rocks,’ the first replied. ‘Earning my living,’ the second said. ‘Helping to build a cathedral,’ said the third.” When we first set out on the road to our vision, we start out by doing whatever is possible. Then, inspired by our own achievements, we move on to doing whatever is conceivable. Finally, we muster up the courage to attack the inconceivable, using as our battle cry the Nike motto, “Impossible is nothing.” At this stage it is not surprising to have big dreams, for how can we succeed beyond our wildest dreams unless we first have a wild dream?

It’s never too late to have a dream, embrace it, and bring it to life. Many dreams have died by the wayside because of nagging self-doubt, because of the belief “it is not in me.” But if an inspiring vision ever flashed into your mind, it is only because it is in you striving to get out. Don’t kill the dream; kill the self-doubt. The weapon of choice is action. Follow the six steps already mentioned, and if you persist, it is impossible to fail. For if you keep moving forward, no matter how small the steps, you will
reach your destination.

Remember, a spirit without a vision is a life without a mission. You owe it to yourself, the community, and the world to follow your dream. As Woodrow Wilson (1913 ~ 1921) said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”