Monday, January 28, 2008

No Future Story

and all that is left is a compromise.

I teach a class on Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World. The class is dedicated to helping those in generational poverty move toward prosperity. We examine mental models that contribute to our stuckness and also explore models that help us discern how to understand and eventually overcome our situation. I have learned much about myself and others throughout this class. The undying spirit of some in the class is inspirational, while witnessing others trapped in the tyranny of the moment makes me realize the true mountain to be climbed.

One of the keys to getting out of poverty is understanding the hidden rules within classes - learning them and using them to build social capital. Another key is having a future story. If you don't have a future story, you have nothing to work toward.

Robert Fritz, composer, filmmaker and organizational consultant, the author of 'The Path of Least Resistance' creates a mental model to describe the discrepancy between your vision (the result you want to create) and your current reality (what you now have). He says, "When you form structural tension, it can be resolved one of two ways: toward the fulfillment of your vision as a reality or toward the continuation of the reality you now have. If you have an intolerance for discrepancy, you will tend to quickly resolve the tension in favor of continuing your present circumstances rather than working toward your vision." In other words you stay stuck.

So what do we do if we don't have a vision or have an uncomfortability with discrepancy?

One of the participants in one of the past classes was working hard to get a car (this was a major stressor in her life). She had small children, trying to hold down a job and was spending an average of $20 a day on cab fare. She had a goal- she felt the discrepancy between her vision and her current reality. Having wrestled with this discrepancy she reached her goal by the end of class; she purchased an automobile.

She has arrived. She saves money daily, experiences independence in her fine vehicle and enriches her children's lives by taking trips to places that would have been frivolous before. Her future story included seeing herself in a vehicle and she made it happen- but has she really arrived? Her future story ended there. She still lives within subsidize housing, has not experienced a vacation and still needs to manage her money to the exact penny each month in order to survive, I am relatively sure that if an emergency came, she would fall short financially (many of us in this boat- including me). I am hopeful that she will dare to dream big in the future but for now she is done. She cannot see beyond this point. And no one, can vision for her- she needs to define this for herself.

So, what does this all have to do with me? Well, I am sad to admit that I find myself without a future story. I have little stories like organizing my bill drawer or planning my garden in spring, and increasing the quality of communication with the kids.......but deep down, I realize that I lost my dreams along the way. So here I sit desiring more for my fellow student above, when really I am in the same boat: Limbo.

In discussions with friends and coworkers I often share a picture of me in limbo. I explain that many people who are treading water in a dark sea will start to swim toward anything even if they don't know where the shore is- they at least know that they are doing something. Others find themselves as weak swimmers, so even if they knew where the shore was, they would have difficulty reaching it. I find that I have been blessed with the ability to swim, yet, if I cannot see the shore, I end up immobilized. I tread until I can see or have a vision. Even though my legs get tired, even though I am getting hungry, even though I would love to rest awhile I tread on.

At this moment, I lack vision for my next steps- I can't see my shore. But, I am feeling tension between my current reality and what I hope for myself. I need to speak out loud what I want for me, for my kids and for those lives I touch. I am tired and need rest. I need something to focus on- move toward. It is time.

A good friend of mine, named Cassandra, is a constant inspiration for me. She speaks to me as if I am worth a million bucks. She believes I am nothing to be trifled with. She believes that most things are possible if you reach for them. So, what to reach for? Don't make due. Don't settle. Dream big. Be appreciative. Make space. Take baby steps. Leap giant leaps. Don't ask mother may I. Create the reality you want by encouraging the discrepancy. Seek the dip moment and either quit quick things that don't work or work through the deep dip; move toward reward on the other side.

I don't pretend to know my future story, but I do know this: when I do know it, I will realize it, I will move toward it and then as I reach it, I plan to dare to dream big again, and create yet another future story- constantly creating structural tension, reaching for my vision, and bravely facing moments that need facing.

I pray that each day, my purpose becomes more clear.

No future story.......

I think I will look for it under the couch (I find a lot of things there).

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I caught the dip highlighted!
Do I get extra credit?

OH do I know LIMBO!