What Does It Mean, Really, to be a Person of Vision?

by Pat McHenry Sullivan,  founder, Visionary Resources

copyright 2014 by Pat McHenry Sullivan.  All rights reserved

40 years of exploring vision have left me inspired for the power of vision to shape and motivate our best work and life.  But it’s also left me very frustrated by the harm done from so many contradictory misconceptions about vision and how we can truly be more visionary.

The world is filled with variations of “without vision we perish,” or at least we miss out on great opportunities or waste a lot of time and energy following our dreams.  There are also many variations on the theme of how without discernment and effective action, vision turns to illusion or empty dream.  And there are many dictionary definitions and common notions that connect vision or visionaries to something illusory or irrational.

Vision is typically connected with innovation and strategy, but even this by itself presents a problem.  First, many of the best visions bring us back to wisdom or ideas that have been forgotten. Second, if the only criteria for vision are brilliant or unusual innovation and strategy, serious harm can ensue. Think Adolph Hitler, highly successful makers and promoters of dangerous products or services, and all the innovative ideas that promote a shallow or destructive culture.

Over time, I’ve developed my own definition of vision that I’d like you to consider:  Vision is our power to see clearly what is, imagine what can be, discern what is most true, and create brilliant strategy for living every day with integrity, purpose and great joy.

The power to see clearly what is includes the power to stay grounded in reality while we explore possibilities for the future.  It’s what I call full-spectrum seeing, or taking in reality with all our natural ways of engaging the world, including intuition, exploring our worlds within and without, research, meditation, and many more.   It includes seeing allies and resources and options while also seeing the challenges, including our own inner saboteurs.

The power to imagine what can be means far more than just allowing our imagination to roam free.  It’s a way of living that welcomes insights and inspiration any time, anywhere.  Such possibilities or ideas can come through any channel, e.g., memory, a song, a story, or “from the blue”.

Discerning what’s most true” is the work of assessing possibilities in terms of their capacity for generating “integrity, purpose and joy.”  Integrity in all its meanings is the key here, for integrity means that we are anchored in the wisest, most ethical and honest and enduring truths we know, that we are whole, that we serve many purposes for ourselves and for others.

My favorite tools for discerning what’s true include meditation, prayer, and working with the level and plumb, two basic carpenter tools that for five thousand years have enabled humans to create safe and solid buildings.  Buildings with structural integrity serve useful purposes.  Vertically, they are on true, or aligned with the core of the earth. Horizontally, they are aligned so they can be in harmony, bear right loads, and deal with stress.

In my structural integrity meditations, I see the plumb as being true to myself, my purpose, my needs, my many missions.  The level helps me align with others, so I neither give too much to others nor am too selfish.  In that point of perfect alignment, I can see most clearly who I am, what I need, and how I am called to serve.  That creates a wonderfully fertile environment for all the other aspects of vision.

When we are people of vision, we are visionaries, just as when we love, we are lovers.  As visionaries, we are guided to live and work from many clear, specific mental pictures and ideas that result from using our powers of vision.  That’s true whether our life’s work is as a CEO, an inventor, an artist, a receptionist or factory worker.

For more about vision and being visionary, see my website, www.visionary-resources.com, particularly the resources, FAQs and blog.  For specific help to liberate and develop your visionary potential or to shape specific visions, call 510-530-0284 or write pat@visionray-resources.com.

For permission to reprint this article, write pat@visionary-resources.com

About Women of Vision San Francisco

We are entrepreneurial women supporting ourselves and each other through our work and passion. We network, learn and envision each other ideas in a caring, respectful and safe community.
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