Beloveds, I have heard it said that we begin to die the moment we are born. What a sobering thought. Yet, everything we anticipate has an end. Today, I want to give you a peek into my personal practice of envisioning positive possibilities.
The art of envisioning creates successful outcomes.
Over the last few days, I have been working on fine-tuning the content for my workshops/speech for Iowa and, frankly, I am optimistically anxious. I am excited. I feel honored and humbled, but I also want it to be perfect and I want to get it right. And I want it to be the best work I have ever done!
Really? Iyabo, really?
I keep getting in my own way with anxiety and it is too easy for me to get into overload and do too much and lose focus. So, I have a practice.
I have this old, ingrained habit. Whenever I have a new location to work in, I can easily get bent out of shape with anxiety. I have noticed this about myself. So, I have learned to make friends with that anxiety. It is just my internal compass wanting things to turn out spectacularly well. Therefore, I give that internal compass voice through an envisioning process.
I want to share this envisioning process with you as a way for you to see how vision works at a critical time and in a productive way.
I tap into mindfulness. Stop. Breathe. Take in what is going on around me in the here and now. Appreciate the moment. The temperature of the room. The sounds I am hearing. Notice what I am not hearing. I scan my body to seek where there is tension and I breathe into it. I revisit my thinking. I plug into the Eternal Truths of My Life. I know that in this moment, I am enough. I have everything I need right now, in this moment. I am loved, and I am cherished. All is well. And all will be well. And all manner of things will be well. Including this workshop. I believe in myself. I believe that my work is valuable. I believe that there is guidance that comes from the other side of what is Mysterious, and I relax into that knowing.
Then, you know what?
I turn. I pivot. Not to the content I am creating, but to the outcome I want. So, for example, my first talk is on Wednesday night:
I then begin to envision what 9:00 pm on Wednesday night in Iowa looks and feels like.
I imagine feeling spent because I poured everything out that I had in me. The perfect number of people attended this event. The expressions on the faces of the students, faculty, public moved from polite presence, quizzical looks, rapt attention to “aha” moments. Some folks, when it was time to leave, stood mobilized for a few minutes, wondering about what they just heard. Most were quiet. Many were not seeing what was around them as they were wondering about the light that was turned on internally at what they heard. Young people felt hopeful and heard. Older folks felt affirmed and open. Women felt wowed. Men wrestled with some new connections they had not made. The room is filled with a subtle sense of awe and many people felt justified. There was warmth and love in the room. I felt that I made deep connections with complete strangers. They asked smart questions. I gave answers that liberated thinking and I flowed with discernment and intuition throughout the evening. As much as I feel spent, I also feel energized as I begin to pay attention to epiphanies that continue to shape the remaining two talks. I feel deeply satisfied and I know I did a good job. Added bonus: Many people signed up for my newsletter (This reminds me to do the signup sheet, so I can collect those email addys.)
After this, I move on to the next talk. I want a different outcome.
This one is so lighthearted and fun. Who knew you could be vulnerable and at a school of Engineering? I truly enjoyed modeling how to be Divinely Feminine to these women as they moved closer to embracing all of who they are and how it can show up in their work. These women felt so affirmed, seen and heard. Engineering and Emotions! Gosh, the hugs that came out of this one. O boy! You know I love some hugs. I love how I was fully present and engaged and the high level of interaction among the participants. They were able to create new relationships among themselves. I am tickled pink as to how I flawlessly weave spirituality into my work in secular environments in a way that is graceful, honest and authentic while honoring the various belief systems in the room. I like that about me. As I remind these women that they are not alone, I challenge them to find ways to create inclusive community where difference is celebrated (This is a reminder to me to include this in my closing.)
Then, I spend a few more minutes determining how I want to feel on Thursday evening as I go to bed anticipating my Friday workshop.
I truly enjoyed this workshop. I felt that the participants and I shared true wisdom that comes from being peers. So many issues come to the surface that the participants were not aware were there. They felt empowered to do things differently. They especially want to “see” the world around them differently. They want to know that they do not have to choose between their positions in academia and their values. They want to know that they are not crazy for “caring.” They come away from this workshop finding like-minded colleagues that they can share their values with. (This last part reminds me to include this invitation in my presentation.)
And then I move to how I want to feel when I am on the flight back home on Friday evening.
As I board the plane and sit by the window, I lean my head against the small plane window, looking out at the airport and I still cannot figure out which is my favorite workshop or talk. I scan my body and I feel a sense of awe and deep joy. Not an exuberant joy like laughter but the type of joy that shows up as a Mona Lisa smile the entire trip back home. I feel deep bone satisfaction that feels rich and life-affirming. Strangely, I feel relaxed and calm as I mutter words of gratitude to God for giving the honor and privilege to do “the work my soul must have” (Alice Walker).
And the wonderful soul who orchestrated this whole series of workshops? When I get on the plane, she is where she is with tears in her eyes as she recognizes that she significantly contributed to changing her community with Wisdom and Truth and that she is right where she should be, doing what she should be doing and because she had the vision to make this happen, it opens up amazing doors that she could never imagine. She feels proud and connected to her community in a sustainable way.
When I get home, with no delays, with ease and pleasure along the way, I sleep deeply, and I get up Saturday morning and from this place of fullness, I deliver a deeply relevant luncheon workshop for the next event. I pivot easily as the audience is different. I deliver relevant information. In this event, I speak on “Being Fearless to Heal Broken Systems,” I am masterful, and I feel powerful as I speak liberating truth. Yet, I receive so much as I feel filled by the wisdom and value of the other speakers. This experience changed the lives of the participants and they are empowered to change their communities.
As I envision this last workshop, I pick up that my energy is not as engaged for this one. That means I have to now go back and work on my notes for this workshop and make sure that I give it 100% also. The visioning process has allowed my inner compass to become aware that I am violating my personal values regarding excellence in my work. I add to my vision for it:
On the plane, I feel energized as I reflect back over the three days and the gems I learned about speaking at a large institution of higher learning. I pivot. I think of the Iowa State University as a system. I reflect on what I learned from this system and viola! Everything falls in place for my talk on Saturday. I feel relief and joy as I recognize my body falling into full engagement mode for this next workshop. Thank You, Lord! It all came together beautifully.
I call next Sunday into the present:
I close my weekend feeling full, slightly shaking my head with awe and wonder as to how my life could be so wonderful. I cry a lot this week – with joy and humility as I embrace my own expansion. Tears can be a good thing! I also reflect on how amazing it was to eat well and light and get tons of great exercise in Iowa. My clothes were beautiful and appropriate for the events. I packed the perfect comfortable shoes! I was not too cold or too hot. I enjoyed new experiences and I slept soundly each night.
And on Sunday, I introvert! That is entirely too many people in one week for me to hold on to my sanity without introverting at some point! This is how I self-preserve.
Process as Ritual:
Beloveds, every day, I keep a journal, and this is what I do in my journal. I write how I want to feel and what I want to experience as if it is the end of the day. I write it as a Thank-You prayer to God. And the next morning, I read over the previous day and check off what came to pass and what did not. That is the envisioning process.
Of course, it is a fantasy. Of course, every day, there is something that did not turn out the way I scripted it.
You may think this is a lot. You may think, “Really? That is an arduous process.” However, I am here to tell you that I started with one sentence daily. And it has grown to a process that is holy and remarkable for me.
I used this newsletter today to do my process. As I close this out. I feel calm. Several gaps in my content for Iowa has surfaced in my mind and I am fully engaged, calm, and creative. I feel grounded and confident about the outcome.
Anxiety has turned into thrills!
Note: Did you see how in the process, I moved from myself, to the participants in the room, to the community at large? That is why envisioning heals. It moves you beyond yourself!
Steven Covey tells us, “Begin with the end in mind.” That includes both planning and visioning. Visioning is so much more than planning. You have to have a plan and then you overlay it with the envisioning process.
Here is what I have learned from this process that I have practiced over the years:
- The end of a thing is the beginning point of the thing. Begin with the end in mind – Steven Covey
- Self-preservation requires visioning intended outcomes. It is a practice that brings peace and health to your mind and your body.
- Visioning reduces anxiety, helps you tap into your creative wellspring and grounds you.
- Visioning is the art form that ignites your intuition to partner with your creativity.
- Visioning is the activity of planning and then pulling the future into the present.
- Visioning creates space for the healing of self, others, and community.
- Visioning is an experiential investment: Tomorrow becomes now.
Why don’t we do more of this?
We think we are not worthy! Do you see how I had to dig deep and kinda brag on myself? I used outrageous language that sounds boastful. But remember this is a private process that I am sharing with you. This is not how I speak about myself to others, but this is how I want to experience me!
Do you know how many years it has taken to me deal with all the layers that prevented me from getting to this point?
You do not have to go through all that. I promise you. The only thing stopping you from having the courage to do what I did above is you thinking that you are not worthy of what you want.
This is what leaders do whether they are aware of it. To get people to complete the tasks that leaders set before themselves, they must spend a lot more time in the future. In the book, The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner tell us that that
“Top executives spend only about 3 percent of their time thinking about, and getting others on board with, the critical issues that will shape their business ten or more years down the road.”
This is not enough. They say:
“This is where great leadership makes all the difference. Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is that we are trying to build – and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future. It comes down to pointing the way and saying, ‘C’mon. We can do this!’”
Beloved, visioning is critical to your life and your leadership. Invest in it.
I dare you: What if you were worthy of your wildest, most amazing vision of your life?
My challenge to you this week is that you envision what you want to be experiencing in your body when you read my newsletter next week.
Go do it! Let me know how it goes. I will let you know how Iowa went next Sunday.
Peace, and blissful hugs.