I was a participant in a great visit with a fellow socialpreneuer last night. We shared a meal and got to talk at length about our respective projects. As I left the meeting, I thought about what I said. As most of us know… wait, I’ll leave the other two of you out of this. As I frequently realize, the “meeting after the meeting” is typically where most of the magic happens. It just so happens that no one else was present for this meeting after the meeting so I was forced to write, and capture the flood of ideas that came through the old fashioned way.
Without any further adieu… I present, a letter…
So, as I was driving home last night contemplating the gorgeous breeze, I thought about our chat and a few items came to mind.
First, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate your tenacity and passion for your vision, it is refreshing. Do you know how many people I meet in a day’s time that have no vision at all; no idea what they want and how they are going to get it? I have made it my life’s work to help them find it, but sometimes it is nice to meet with someone who is already there.
Second, I realized what a boob I must’ve sounded like seeing as my entire plan was ripped apart by my new board and I have had to essentially start over with the planning process building from the ashes. I am excited about this process though and look forward to seeing where it leads. The vision of service remains, and it only gets clearer with each new iteration.
Which leads me to the third reason for writing which, incidentally, may have several sub-points… buckle up this may be a bumpy ride.
As I drove home, I thought about your questions, and really, I think I did a poor job of answering them. I could talk about me, and my ideas and plans all day, and never tire of the details and intricacies, but I think you were really interested in seeing how I got to the place where i was sitting in a room with several millionaires having them tell me that I probably needed a lot more money than I called for and that they wanted to give it to me, provided I was willing to play by their rules. I don’t think I answered that question for you. (In hind sight, I’m not really sure which questions I did answer… I was feeling a bit scattered 🙂
Anyway, I thought it would be nice if I could distill my experience for you. Build a formula upon which you could build your own effort to achieve the vision you have. I would have said get the money, but frankly, money is one of the smaller problems we are up against. Perception is probably the biggest, followed by an attitude of scarcity (a subject I could write an entire book on), followed closely by negative self-image (even though we usually don’t think so), followed by mis-directed effort, I could increase the list but it may get off topic – I’ll save the remainder for another letter.
So, back to the formula.
First, clarity of vision. This doesn’t mean have a great elevator pitch or business plan or executive summary. All of those are elements but those are human instruments. Those are about methodology. They are vitally important but they can change depending upon the climate. Before they can even come close to communicating your vision, it must be clear in your heart. It has to be the only thing you live and breathe and eat and sleep. The vision must be crystal clear. Define all of the details in your head and in your heart. Design the things that your vision will accomplish. Perhaps more importantly, imagine how it will feel to live this vision. Imagine a time and place where the vision has been achieved, what will that look like, be specific, imagine what you will be doing, who you will be doing it with. How will it feel, how will it impact your every waking moment? Imagine the words you will say, the locations you will be in.
It is less important to envision the bricks and mortar part, again, those can change and they probably will change. Envision the soft parts, the impact, the people affected, the change made. If the vision is to start a business that will empower ex-offenders to rebuild their lives through education, a supportive environment, access to resources, love and caring, and true sustainable opportunity, don’t think about which type of tomatoes to use in the organic salsa. Although this will be a vital part of the process, if it makes it that far, what happens when a guy shows up with a million bucks, a coffee roaster and a friend in Guatemala who owns a coffee plantation? If I’m focused on tomatoes, I may completely miss the coffee roasting opportunity. I must focus on the vision, not the delivery mechanism. If I want to provide space for kids to experience life through the arts; to create real change for neighborhoods by uniting artists and the city they live in, I have to focus on the impact it will have. What can I do to shape their lives now? What can I do to create that environment now? Who do I have to meet to more accurately define the vision? What will the world present for me to more completely fulfill that vision?
When you’ve done this fully, let go of the outcome. This sounds completely counter-intuitive but in order for the universe to deliver our dreams, we have to let go of how the dream will be delivered. We don’t know the specific path we will have to walk to find the manifestation of the vision. Be patient, the vision will manifest if we do this methodically. Continue this process daily as the path changes, and watch these things materialize, seemingly out of thin air.
Second, don’t quit. I know we’ve all heard this before but seriously, don’t quit. Funny thing , as we move through the idea stage, and the brainstorming stage, and the putting it all on paper stage, and the selling it to others stage, life continues to happen. We take jobs, we lose jobs, we have relationships, we travel, we move, all sorts of things happen to distract us from the vision. Keep the vision and don’t quit. Go with the flow but don’t quit. Continue to move toward your vision with every breath. Be quick to recognize how the universe is moving you toward your vision every moment of every day, even when it doesn’t seem like it is. Dig within yourself for the energy to alter your perception. Change you perception to see that magic that is happening right here, right now. Remember; don’t quit the vision regardless of circumstance, or location, or finance, or loss. Keep the vision close to your heart and pay close attention to the sign posts along the way. They are always there if we’re looking. (This letter is one of them.)
Third, read, read, read. Read blogs, and stories, and books, and memoirs, and letters from kids, and notes from mom. Read books that inspire and transmit ideas and pay attention to those ideas. See how they influence the vision. What you put into your brain has no other option but to influence you and your vision. Feed the passion with literature, and feed the vision with input from the entire world. I never quite know where the next great idea comes from and I can’t tell you how clarity can come while reading something as simple as the Onion. Absorb ideas through the written word and reflect on how the vision is influenced by those words and ideas.
Fourth, give more value than you ask payment for. This may be the most important step. People don’t want to be sold an idea but people want to belong to a group they believe in. Think of a friend trying to sell you on going to see a play you don’t really want to attend with people you don’t really want to go with. It’s nearly impossible. Now think of those listening to a pitch for something they don’t believe in and really don’t see the value of. They won’t buy. Think of the inverse of that reality. Think of a play that everyone wants to attend. People are dying to get in, friends are calling each other, making plans and it all seems effortless. This is the mode we must take to become true agents of change.
Create belief by creating value out of nothing. Go to where no one has gone and do something no one has done. Do something, anything. Create momentum out of sheer creative energy. Build something people can join, and believe in and do it for free. If you want to paint, paint. If you want to capture images, capture images. If you want to change the world, change it. Do what you do because you believe in it more fully than anything else you can believe, and the partners will appear. The finance will appear. It sounds like magic, and it is completely counter-intuitive, but seriously, people want to belong, people want to believe, people want to act, but people will also rarely act before someone else has, and will rarely join a movement that isn’t moving yet. Give more than you ask, and you will always be provided with more than you need.
Fifth, share your story freely. Speak whenever you can. Tell your story. Humanize your vision. Share the impact. Show the impact. Blog, capture images, record video, get on the news, get on the radio, shout on the street corner. Sharing our stories is how the human race conveys humanity; it is how we relate to each other. Our stories create space for connection and we need to connect, perhaps more now than ever before. Share your story, how did you get here? How did you come to these conclusions? Why should we care? How can we connect? Personalize everything, and everything will have a hook that will implant itself in other’s minds. Those hooks, that connection, is vital to generate the support you desire. That support drives the vision forward when we’re tired because we’ve been pushing so hard.
Sixth, rinse and repeat. Do this again, and again, and again. Do this until you are sick of it. Do this until your friends are sick of it. Eat, drink, sleep this method. Clarity, stick-to-itiveness, input from others, create value, share the story. These are the things that I have done. These are the things that landed me in a meeting with a couple of people saying, “I believe like you believe, but I think you are going to need a lot more money. Would you be willing to explore some other options and revise the plan for your vision so we can collaborate more effectively? We want to help you but we want to make sure that we are not wasting our money.”
It is my sincerest desire that these things have been helpful. If they have, well, you’re welcome. If you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, “jeez, this guy is a goof-wad!” That’s okay too. Rest assured, this was highly therapeutic to put these concepts into words. I’d love to do anything I can to help you as you move forward. Say the word and I am there!
Have a wonderful afternoon and a fantastic journey, I am excited for you!!