I bought this journal a few years ago because the message on the cover leaped out at me. I don’t use it anymore but I keep it on my desk because of the words on the cover. (Lesson in passing, people (or at least I) will keep you in my world because of the message you carry, but I digress!)
Today marks the first day of 2020. It’s not just a new year, but a new decade and 2020 vision is a quick and easy theme if you’re looking for one. My social media steam has been filled today with posts, memes and 2020 vision quotes. They’re mostly cute and ‘pithy’ puffed up with a touch of bravado. It’s probably worth saying that if a 2020 meme is appealing to you, it’s gleam will fade pretty quickly unless you’ve got clarity around your plans and strategy. Bravado is a fantastic call to action, but it’s not sustainable, and more and more people are opting out of following leaders whose primary skill is chest-thumping because they’ve been disappointed too many times before.
The message on my journal cover brings me back to several touchstones that keep me focused and grounded.
‘It always seems impossible’ reminds me of the scope of a compelling vision.
A vision must be big and ‘impossible’ in the sense that it calls us to something so challenging and demanding that it requires more from us than just us. In broad strokes, your vision (even your 2020 vision) is too small if you can do it by yourself.
Vision also needs to be sustaining. There are good days, and there are bad days as we pursue our vision. Your vision needs to be exciting and important enough to you that you show up with passion on the day after your most challenging setback or disappointment. If you didn’t have that in 2019, it’s not likely that the change of the calendar is going to give it to you for any length of time.
The second part of the message points me to perseverance and persistence. The day I started training for my first half marathon I hadn’t run a kilometer in years. I found a training plan, committed to it and ran… rain or shine and most days in the dark. I prepared for months. On the morning of my first half marathon, I was nervous and a bit unsure of myself. Up until that day, the farthest I had run was 18km. I’ll never forget passing that marker and thinking that every step I took after that was a new personal best. A year earlier, that distance seemed impossible until it was done. A few years later, I lined up for my first marathon. My longest run in training was 35kms. A full marathon is 42.2. Even though I was well trained, a marathon is demanding, and I wondered if I could finish. At 30kms, I developed severe calf cramps that required me to stop and stretch and eventually walk until they recovered. There were times in my last 10kms when it felt impossible, but I persisted, and then, it was done.
Today marks day 1 of my 15th year of building a chaplaincy to support politicians across Canada. It’s been harder than I thought it would be and has taken me much longer to get to where we are than I thought it would. We haven’t arrived, but the vision is a lot less impossible than it was 15 years ago.
Here are some things I’ve learned about ‘impossible’ along the way.
If your vision doesn’t present the legitimate possibility of complete failure, it won’t be big enough to keep you coming back. Dream BIG!
Clarity matters. Make sure your vision is crystal clear and that you can articulate it in a couple of sentences that include your why. Keep it simple and clear enough so that people who hear it for the first time will say, ‘that’s awesome!’
Seeing impossible happen is more about persistence and perseverance than it is about a series of quick miracles.
The miracles that make the impossible happen come because of persistence and perseverance. Lightning sometimes strikes, but it’s mostly in response to faithfulness.
Bravado might stir a crowd, but it won’t keep you getting up in the morning. Give yourself to a vision that is marked less by chest-thumping and more about strategy, intent and focus. You’ll be happier with the results!