Posts filed under Crisis

Overcoming Disappointment

Visionmakers must be on their guard when meeting the challenge of disappointment. Nothing can undermine progress toward a dream faster than those unexpected occurances where our expectations and outcomes do not meet.


Disappointment is a part of every journey of meaning. The average person sees it as a catastrophe. Visionmakers see disappointment as an opportunity to re-calibrate vision. The difference here is that the average person collapses into a state of victimhood; Visionmakers embrace disappointment as an initiation.


Inititiations are high learning experiences. They are seldom fun, especially when they involve disappointment. We must either rise above the gap between our expectations and outcomes or shut down, withdraw and settle for less.


Visionmakers are committed to continuous learning and facing things as they are rather than how they wish they were. Ultimately, we are being shown the weaknesses and defects of our own plans, attachments and philosophies.


Here are ten things we can learn from disappointment:


1. Every journey of meaning is an expedition into unfamiliar territory. Expecting that things will always go smoothly is unrealistic.


2. Surprises, even the unpleasant ones, are opportunities to recommit to our dreams.


3. Betrayal is a self-inflicted. Perhaps we are guilty of refusing to see what is right in front of our eyes. Perhaps we preferred to avoid conflict rather than face it squarely.


4. Visionmakers always say what they see, even when it's not pretty. That is not license to be rude, unskilled or blunt in our communication. It is a requirement to say what we see in a way that others can hear. Disappointment provides practice.


6. Other people may not see what we see. Patience is required to help them cross the bridge from their present perspective to a new way of seeing.


7. Self-pity is a popular trap. Many of us use it to get attention from other people. These behaviors are "less than becoming." Yet, we are all vulnerable to them in states of disappointment. Visionmakers strive to avoid self-pity and enrolling others into their mood because they recognize that it is toxic to their dreams.


8. Experienced Visionmakers earned their mastery by overcoming disappointment not wallowing in it. They have the resiliency and mental toughness for the life-long journey of meaning. They don't wimp out.


9. Reactivity wastes time. For every hour spent brooding about what woulda, coulda, shoulda happened, we could be engaging in self-improvement and redreaming.


10. Disappointment is announcement that we are taking things very seriously. Maybe we need to take a break, chill out and gain some perspective. Sometimes we forget that this is an expedition! Stuff happens. Lighten up.


© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved

Posted on February 17, 2010 and filed under Crisis.

Overcoming Fear

Fear is our constant companion on the journey past the comfort zone into unknown territory. It keeps us sharp, awake to all that we encounter that is unfamiliar. Like all other primary emotions, it is hard to escape from fear. Visionmakers learn to overcome it and "move from within' as Rumi so elegantly put it.  

There are situations and encounters in life where it would be foolhardy not to feel the presence of fear. Eliminating it completely is beyond our capacity. Managing our fear–and not being run by it–is within our power to accomplish.


One fear that must be faced is the inevitable encounter with our Destiny. Many of us turn away from the future because we are afraid to face the possibility that we cannot attain our hearts desire, or that we will fail.


Others turn away for fear that they can attain their Destiny and are terrified of the changes and choices that will be required as a result.


Rather than be paralyzed by either sets of fears, Visionmakers make a different choice. They turn to their personal powers-the sum total of their knowledge, experience, aptitudes, gifts, talents, skills, character qualities and creativity.


They recognize that these unique and potent resources create confidence and the kind of seasoning that allows a Visionmaker to feel well-matched for the encounter with uncertainty and the unknown.


We are far more powerful than we might think. At times of challenge, change, conflict, chaos and crisis, when fear rises, we are reminded to empower ourselves rather than defeat ourselves by forgetting who we are, by giving ourselves over to our fears.


© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved.

Posted on January 12, 2010 and filed under Crisis, Uncertainty.

The Cradle of Original Vision

There is a fallacy about vision that is important to expose. Many believe that original vision is an innate gift that few are born with. Visionmakers believe otherwise.  

Visionmakers believe that everyone is born with the gift of original vision. Few people, however, are willing to develop that gift. It can be an uncomfortable process. Most of us don't like to be uncomfortable. It's irritating and demands attention be diverted from maintaining the status quo, that comfort zone that allows us to maintain our routinized engagement with life. That's where the average person spends a majority of their waking hours, in routines. Few are actually present to the unfolding mystery that surrounds us!


Visionmakers develop a tolerance for creative tension, that perceptual stretching required to develop original vision to its potential. Creative tension is the cradle of original vision. It requires that we face the future without a guarantee of success. That can be uncomfortable, especially when experiencing the products of creative tension–uncertainty, paradox, challenges, problems, confusion, chaos, ambiguity, change, and new possibilities.


These ten conditions, however, stimulate us to reach within ourselves to expand our vision. Over the next several weeks, I will be looking at these ten conditions as the cradle of original vision. Thank you for visiting Visions. Your insights and comments are welcome as always.


©Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved

Posted on June 19, 2009 and filed under Crisis, Status Quo, Uncategorized.

Contemporary Visionmakers - Seymour Melman

Seymour Melman is professor emeritus, Columbia University. Since the late 1960's, he has championed "the conversion project." The conversion project envisions the day that the world economy is converted from a military to a civilian economy.  

Melman suggests that the conventional wisdom that military spending is good economics may be running its course. He suggests that they are forces at work that have created a "less durable" war economy.


"As a war economy deindustrializes, part of the work goes into more military stuff, but the major part of the deindustrialization is simply the shutdown of civilian work in this country and its transfer elsewhere, mainly to countries that pay low wages and, very importantly, discourage the formation and operation of trade unions. The militarization of the economy then has two sides: the continuation and the expansion of the militarization in the U.S. and the cessation of all manner of civilian work and its transfer of the investments for this work, especially to China."


He suggests that there is massive damage being done to the American economy, damage that will become even more visible over time. Melman's solution?  As Bruce Mau and his collaborators report in a brilliant book called Massive Change, "go civilian or go broke."


Melman is passionate about the necessity of transforming the war economy to a civilian economy as soon as possible and in a planned and orderly way: 


"I don't see the prospect of a permanent war economy going on indefinitely.  I think the damage that is now in process to the American economy is very considerable, and is going to be more visible all the time. I see a prospect, though I can't put a timetable on it, for the idea of economic conversion and thereby not only the occupational transformation but also, very importantly, the industrial economic transformation."


Consider this spending comparison:


                           Military       or      Civilian


$5.3 Trillion: Cost of creating U.S. Nuclear Weapon Overkill Capacity... or ...more than twice the net value of the plant and equipment in U.S. manufacturing industries.


$99 Billion: F-22 Raptor Advanced Fighter program...or ...3,500 miles of Maglev train lines, running at         266 miles per hour.


$80 Billion: Navy SSN 774 Virginia Class Submarine program ($71 Billlion) and Navy Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle program ($8.7 Billion)... or... Investment needed to provide 20% of U.S. electricity supply from renewable and clean resources.


$59 Billion: Army Comanche Helicopter program ($48.1 Billion) and Navy Joint Standoff Weapon program ($11.2 Billion)...or... Cost of building housing for the 600,000 homeless families in the U.S.


$11 Billion: Total cost of the Navy's "Future Surface Combatant" program ...or... Annual shortfall to meet federal safe drinking water standards and replace aging facilities.


$11 Billion: Amphibious Assault Ship program...or ... Research program to develop zero emissions, coal gasification power plants.


$10 Billion: Two Navy CVN6-B Aircraft Carriers...or... Annual cost to provide sanitary water to 2.4 billion people worldwide.


$9.1 Billion: E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System program...or... Five years of funding for a global tuberculosis program.


$210 Million: One Global Hawk Unmanned Drone...or... Electrification of 50 miles of mainline railroad.


$7.9 Million: One "upgraded" Abrams Tank...or...Annual cost to enroll 1,100 children in Head Start preschool programs.*


As the world changes, our values must change as well. We have an opportunity to take advantage of Visionmaking to remake the world we want rather than uphold the world we inherited. Seymour Melman, along with others, provides a provocative vision for economic transformation.


We are up to the challenge.


* Massive Change, Bruce Mau and the Institute Without Borders,pg. 176


©Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on June 15, 2009 and filed under Contemporary Visionmakers, Crisis.

The Flame of Perseverance

Many people are asking for help facing the uncertainty and volatility of present conditions. Stress is everywhere. Businesses are failing, many because of greed and mismanagement. This post attempts to provide some support to those that have suffered setbacks at this time.  

This is a time of character. Because our current circumstances have resulted from a deficit of character, we are being asked as individuals and as a society to come to another level of character excellence. We have entered a collective, initiatory crucible.


One test of character that we must demonstrate we are capable of meeting is Perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to maintain forward progress towards our dreams despite obstacles, challenges and setbacks. Perseverance is the gumption to overcome fear, loss, fatigue, suffering, disappointment and illness. This demands a strong heart supported by a strong will. 


The Greek dramatist, Euripedes suggests: "To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage in a man (or woman). The coward despairs." (The addition in brackets is mine.)


Every journey of meaning will contain stretches that test the Visionmaker's courage to the point of choosing whether to quit or continue. There will be temptation after temptation to quit as part of the status quo's concerted effort to rid the world of one more Visionmaker. The seduction sounds so reasonable:


"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..."


The Flame of Perseverance comes to those who are more committed to the journey of meaning than they are to fear. It is a refuge and a light during times of darkness and doubt. Turning his or her back to the status quo's insistent campaign to have us quit, the Visionmaker turns to the flame and continues the journey undaunted. 


Setting our sights on the next step, we move forward repeating the mantra:


"Commitment...take the next step."

"Persistence...take the next step."

"Resilience...take the next step."

"Patience...take the next step."

"Hope...take the next step."


"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 with pursuing a journey of meaning: one purposeful act at a time. Perseverance delivers the greatest success in the face of overwhelming odds. Take the next step.


©Patrick O'Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on June 10, 2009 and filed under Crisis, Status Quo.


"Power always makes a cubic centimeter of chance available to the warrior. The Warrior's art is to be perennially fluid in order to pluck it." –Carlos Castaneda  

A Visionmaker is always vigilant, disciplined and ready to act. With economy and efficiency, he or she seeks the best moment to act, the moment when it is possible to pluck the future form the fingers of Chance.


Chance is a rip in the fabric of the status quo that Destiny opens for an act of intent.


The status quo, of course, is self-repairing. That rip is sewn back together instantly. That's why fluidity is so important. We must be in flow to take advantage of that cubic centimeter of chance.


In Visionmaking, fluidity is caused by the confluence of the warmth of emotion and feeling and the coolness of intellect.  Working together in partnership, emotion and intellect constantly adjust the temperature of the fire of purpose like a thermostat.


This ensures that the will does not overheat, which leads to hot-headedness, or freeze, causing cold-heartedness.  The will remains fluid, able to constantly adjust the balance of energy and power to serve purposeful action.


Fluidity produces right timing. Picture an elite athlete, musician or dancer. The heart, intellect and will are united in the flawless execution of a complex set of actions. As a result the performance is transcendent.  There is no separation between the performer and the performance.  Everything flows.


This is the Visionmaker's art.  The fluidity to act with purpose and generate a breakthrough.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on May 13, 2009 and filed under Crisis, Uncategorized.

Within Our Power

Look at these worlds spinning out of nothingness

That is within your power.



One of the positive effects of the current economic calamity is that it has awakened us from the collective malaise of the status quo.


It is easy to be lulled to sleep by the assurance that things are proceeding as they should, and that our interests are being preserved by experts in government, business, religion and other institutions. Many of us place our trust in these authority figures and leave them to run things largely as they see fit.


Then, suddenly, we are awakened by a crashing sound and discover that these same leaders have betrayed our interests by placing theirs ahead of the public trust. Shame on them ...and shame on us.


Visionmakers seize such opportunities to take control of their own destiny. They recognize that despite the circumstances, there is a world full of possibility to be explored to remedy our challenges and transform circumstances.


In Visionmaking, the primary allegiance is to generativity. It is the ability to maintain our creativity despite the conditions that we encounter. Generativity requires courage, resourcefulness, initiative and fresh thinking. Ultimately, it calls us to another level of responsibility.


Responsibility is the ability to act with authority. That means we must stop expecting that other people will take care of us and step into our own leadership. This requires that we begin to see ourselves and our world with different eyes.


First,  we must turn away from a belief that we are insufficient to manage our own affairs or that we are the victims of the actions of others. These two dependencies keep us trapped in the status quo and unable to act. 


Next, we must exercise our liberty and make choices, rather than have others decide for us. It may require us to gain greater familiarity or skill-up in areas that we have previously ignored or where we may feel ill equipped to navigate unfamiliar terrain.  


We can learn.


We must also be prepared to try new things. Doing things the same old way will never generate something new or better. And, even if we fail, we learn and grow from the experience. At least the failure has come as a result of our own volition and not as a consequence of remaining less than responsible.


A Visionmaker should never rely on a crisis to drive change.  But a crisis can be useful in accelerating change. The shock of a cold shower wakes all of us out of a dangerous slumber and reminds us of our responsibilities as Visionmakers.


We see that our dreams are always more potent than our circumstances and that we, and the world itself, can be changed. It is well within our power.


© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.

Posted on March 8, 2009 and filed under Crisis.