The Beforemath

"The present is the past of the future." –Stanley M. Davis


Foresight is the name given to the inner journey into the future that Visionmakers make to convert possibilities to outcomes. In order for that journey to be successful, a Visionmaker pays strict attention to managing the beforemath.


Managing the beforemath requires a careful examination of the conditions for success in advance of action occurring. It requires that a Visionmaker penetrate the future through seeing in order to determine the best course of action from the multitude of alternative possibilities that coexist across the span of time.


This mitigates the risk of things going badly due to lack of reflection or poor planning, which results in an unfortunate aftermath. A Visionmaker is committed to managing the beforemath to ensure that the aftermath – actions that convert possibilities to positive outcomes – occurs in the most efficient and effective manner possible.


In order to plan this expedition into the future, Visionmakers envision a bridge or crossing that converts possibilities to outcomes across the span of time. By envisioning this passageway, we use the span of time – short, medium and long-term action steps – to map out the best possible journey into the future. 


Time is seen as a Visionmaking resource that sharpens clarity and foresight, rather than an enemy that burns the bridge beneath our feet. Every Visionmaker is committed to using the gift of time well. With that commitment in mind, Visionmakers attend to beginning the expedition to the future with a keen eye. Poorly envisioning the future can sabotage the aftermath, or the outcome of the journey of heart and meaning.


There are four practices in preparing the beforemath: reflection, articulation, construction of the bridge of foresight and purposeful action.


Reflection is the practice of turning the eyes to the four chambers of the heart - open, full, clear and strong. It is here that the future awaits us. Rilke reminds us that, "The future enters into us, in order to transform itself within us, long before it happens."  That entry point into us is the heart.  Therefore, it is to the heart that we turn to begin the expedition to the future. 


Reflection is the purposeful act of seeking the heart's guidance. Our culture mistakes reflection for wasting time because our bias and values favor action.  But action that does not spring from the heart, and from the discipline of envisioning the future through reflection, is often misguided, or ill-considered resulting in mistakes and a high failure rate.


By quieting the mind and journeying inward to a place of stillness, we encounter the future and begin to create the bridge from our present circumstances to the preferred future.


Articulation means 'to join.' In Visionmaking, articulation is the act of joining the present and the future through a language bridge called The Bridge of Foresight.


Words carry creative power and every Visionmaker gathers those words that, when uttered, provide a clear picture of the journey from present circumstances to future outcomes. This is often hard work: to speak into being what exists only as an abstraction. But this is the only way to manifest the Bridge of Foresight.


The words that one chooses to envision the bridge must be simple, clear and unambiguous. We speak the Bridge of Foresight into being.


Construction of the Bridge occurs when we can articulate the critical path we will follow from our current circumstances to the future state. The action steps, time line, necessary resources we will require to aid the journey, important people that we will need to involve to help us make the crossing, and other success factors must be clearly identified.


Of course, the short-term passage is always easier to see in detail. Mid and longer term steps are often more generalized descriptions due to the lack of proximity in time that we have to them. The closer we get, the easier it becomes to see the next steps.


Finally, purposeful action is the generative force that comes from the unified intelligences of emotion, intellect and will. These three elements are a single system of action, rather than opposing forces.  They are interdependent and when united in support of a common destination create the thrust necessary to initiate the journey from present to the future. In Visionmaking, these three intelligences are known as The Trinity of Power.


A Visionmaker is a good steward of power.  He or she is always attending to strengthening the combustion system of purposeful action.  Any obstructions that impede the heart-old stories, wounds, grudges, concerns and baggage - are identified, worked through and retired. This is an ongoing discipline to keep the heart fully functioning.


The intellect is always strengthened through curiosity, equanimity and humor.  Curiosity is the vehicle of expansion of the intellect.  It keeps the intellect fully engaged, learning and active, the mental exercise required for health and well-being.  


Equanimity, the ability to meet a disturbance without disturbance, provides the mental and emotional steadiness that is required to enter the unknown territory of the future.


Humor provides the means to keep us flexible, resilient, and keeps things in their proper perspective. If we are too serious about our work, we become overly righteous and extremely tiresome. 


These Visionmaking practices assist in managing the beforemath. They require us to do the hard work of preparing well for the journey of meaning. In this way only are we able to escape the gravity field of the past and present for the expedition to the frontiers of possibility in the future.


Your thoughts and comments about this, and past posts are always welcome. Thank you for reading Visions.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on January 28, 2009 and filed under Uncategorized.