Ours is an age of instant gratification. Sometimes we forget that the journey is the prize. Many of us are so focussed on our concepts of achievement –of winning and losing– that we wish that we were already there almost as soon as we have begun to pursue our goals.
It reminds me of a story I heard about the Dalai Lama. At a public lecture, a young woman asked him for the fastest route to enlightenment. He was said to have burst into tears.
Visionmaking isn't about the fastest route to enlightment. It's about a life-long journey to meaning. It ends when it ends. In the meantime, Visionmakers focus on each and every step of the journey, recognizing that transformation is available anywhere, anytime through full engagement in whatever we are doing.
The German poet Johann von Goethe provides wise counsel on this matter:
"It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be a goal and a step likewise."
Satisfaction comes from the knowledge that we gave everything that we had to give, that we executed our actions to the best of our ability. This commitment to performance provides a deeper sense of accomplishment than simply playing "the goal game."
Every road of meaning will contain stretches that test the Visionmaker's trust to the point of choosing whether to continue or to quit. We will be tempted by the demons of the imagination to renounce the journey of meaning in a concerted effort to rid the world of one more Visionmaker:
"You gave it your best shot..."
"It's an idea the world isn't ready for..."
"The game is rigged..."
"Better to try a less risky, less difficult path..."
"You can't change the world..."
Turning his or her back to the demon's insistent campaign, the Visionmaker continues the journey of meaning undaunted. "Drop by drop collected will make a river," writes Sa'di, the great Persian poet. "Rivers upon rivers will make a sea." And so it is when building a path of meaning, one purposeful act at a time.
Perserverance delivers the greatest success and satisfaction, especially in the face of overwhelming odds.
© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved