Earlier this week Karen Huffman, (an incredible thinker, and even more importantly “doer” with National Geographic), mused on her Facebook status whether it was ok to “re-write dreams based on life changes.” Oh yeah. It’s not only ok, it’s necessary. I empathize with Karen’s wonderings, as do many of us. Our dream for our life at 40 sure isn’t the dream we had at 21 – nor should it be. As we move closer to anything — either physically or metaphorically — the details become clearer to us — we can see more pieces of the dream and perhaps the environment or terrain surrounding the dream have changed. That environment or terrain is life’s realities. As those realities change, we may adjust our dream. I say “may” because sometimes the dream is broad enough, that it is the details that change rather than the essence of the dream. Sometimes you just develop a whole new dream. Either of those scenarios is ok – and is quite understandable.
It’s the same with organizations. It’s ok for an organization to “re-focus” or adjust the lens on their vision of where they were headed. Maybe the environment has shifted and that destination ain’t what they thought it was going to be. C’est la vie. What’s important is that they keep looking forward, they keep scanning the horizon and sending scouts out to explore what’s ahead. In otherwords, when the realities for organizations are shifting, they tend to hunker down and focus on operations & on “keeping on keeping on”, not wanting to look at their strategies, or – gawd forbid – do strategic planning!! “Do strategic planning in tough times like this? No, we don’t have time — we have to keep the doors open.” Ahem…….keep the doors open right now, but running on the spot takes you no where.
It’s times like this that organizations should review their visions, their strategies & do a bit of planning. Just like we, at mid-life, need to look at our dreams & do some adjusting, organizations need to look at where they are going & make sure there’s still a market there. The only thing I remember from highschool Latin (argh) is that “vision” is “to see”. If we don’t look where we are going, we’ll trip (believe me). And, if our vision – or our dream – isn’t compelling, we won’t hurry to get there.
As individuals, we have to have dreams. Dreams – imagination – play – fun – contributions to ideals & to others – laughter. Mix in some work, & that’s life. Organizations have to have visions. Visions – imagination – innovation – fun – contributions to values & to others – laughter. Mix in some work & that’s value.
A few years ago Jane, Stephen & I went to a “Pathways to Performance” session by Jim Clemmer (his business writings are incredibly motivating & insightful), in which Jim talked about the importance of keeping a “dream list” — a mix of personal & professional wishes, dreams, hopes (cuz our personal & professional lives ARE just one life, right? We need to remember that). That “dream list” is our source of passion & energy. It’s Friday — start your dream list over your Saturday coffee. What have you got to lose? Nothing but your dreams – and don’t lose your vision or your dreams.