Every journey of meaning depends on a conscious balance between task and relationship. Both must be considered, respected and managed. The sustainability of Visionmaking depends on equal value and attention being paid to each.
Focusing on tasks at the expense of relationships leads to people feeling that they don't matter, that they are being driven or driven over, and their needs disrespected for the sake of personal ambition and gain. The result is reactivity and mistrust.
When relationships are stewarded and tasks ignored, frustration arises due to lack of progress towards an outcome. As a result, lethargy and inertia threaten the viability of the journey. This also leads to questions of leadership competence and unrest amongst those that are supporting the journey of meaning.
For action to be sustainable, Visionmakers must be equally skilled at managing tasks and relationships. They must understand when people need encouragement, support, guidance and understanding. They also need to recognize when clear focus and direction for forward movement is required.
This ability to discern what is required in crossing from Possibility to Outcome is strengthened by three practices: reflection, observation and dialogue.
Reflection is the practice of turning the eyes to the Four-Chambered Heart, the source of Visionmaking and the seat of guidance. A daily practice of asking for guidance about how best to lead others, what their needs might be, and what is the best course of action through difficult circumstances, help balance our 'Type A' impulses.
Observation is the practice of staying close to the action. This allows a Visionmaker to see the conditions and challenges first-hand, and leads to a direct knowledge of what is required to sustain progress. Here, a Visionmaker learns when to accelerate and slow down activity, respecting the varying degrees of difficulty and effort that must be taken into account for the crossing from Possibility to Outcome.
Dialogue is the third means by which a Visionmaker ensures that tasks and relationships are given equal attention. A product of trust and respect, dialogue is an open exploration of what is working and not working on the journey. When people feel free to express their deepest aspirations, needs, ideas and concerns in an environment of mutual support the ability to harness collective wisdom leads to continuous improvement and the sustainability of action.
These three practices support the stewardship of Task and Relationship, critical success factors that ensure a journey of heart and meaning remains viable and robust across the Span of Time.
In my next post, "How We Can," I will address the coming Inauguration of Barack Obama and the way in which all Visionmakers can support his journey of meaning, one that is fraught with difficulties and challenges.
© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.