Taking a Fresh Look at this Year’s Vision
While visiting Europe recently, I walked through an awe-inspiring art exhibit on French Impressionism. The cool, inviting waterlily scenes of Claude Monet beckoned me. However, I was especially intrigued by the fascinating works of George Seurat.
Standing close to the painting, you couldn’t see anything other than dots! Hundreds, thousands, millions of tiny dots everywhere—every shape and every color.
Approaching the masterpiece, you couldn’t see any rhyme or reason to the dots. You couldn’t make out any distinct image or scene. It appeared to be just a messy canvas!
A clear sign was posted next to each of Seurat’s works of art in which he used “pointillism.” This unique painting technique applies “small strokes of dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.”
The message instructed the onlookers to step back from the painting, a certain distance, in order to finally take in the breath-taking image.
Wow! What a change of perspective! Stepping back brought the image into focus, making it obvious and distinct. The observer could then behold all of the creator’s intended beauty. Dots suddenly became magnificent art!
I wondered how I had not seen it before.
As I stood at a distance to admire Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” I found myself reflecting on my own life.
Sometimes, I get nearsighted, discouraged with the progress I've made (or not)! Life gets a bit myopic, and I'm only able to see the details of today. I can sometimes lose my big-picture vision and focus as I’m caught up in the day-to-day grind of life.
The other day someone asked us what we do in North Africa. Often, I respond with my role or title. "I'm a teacher" or "I'm a coach."
However, this time I decided to be brave and respond with something that included my vision (even though I wasn't feeling it much that day). "I help people ‘see beyond’ their current horizon and gain new perspective." I chuckled to myself, thinking about Seurat’s paintings. I guess, in a sense, I encourage people to step away from the canvas of daily life in order to see the bigger picture.
The man responded, "Wow, we all need that!" He then went on to share about a friend who needed exactly this kind of help. This exchange gave me fresh perspective and got me excited again about what I do.
Maybe now is the perfect time to zoom out and get our vision renewed and broadened. Maybe we need to step back from the dots and focus on the bigger image.
Here are a few ways to do this:
1. Tell your “why” story.
Why are you doing what you do? What motivated you to get started in the first place? Why have you stuck with it? Find some friends or potential investors and tell them “Why,” not “how.”
To get more insight on the “why” of your story—with a close friend or colleague, watch the Simon Sinek TED Talk, "How Great Leaders Inspire Action." Afterwards, enjoy discussing together the “why” of what you are both doing.
2. Write down your most positive experiences from this past year.
Include what made them meaningful. Write these in a letter to employees to help build a shared vision, or write an encouraging note of personal highlights to a family member.
3. Record a short story.
Write about what you dream your life or work will be like in 10 years. You could start off with a line like, " It's January 2029, and I'm looking around me. This is what I see . . ."
4. Look for images that are symbolic of what you hope your next year brings.
You could flip through magazines, search Google images, or look for items in your environment that depict your hope. When you find a symbolic image, share it with a friend, draw it out, or describe it in your journal. (We have a free set of images for you to use, just click here or on the image at the bottom of this page.)
All these things can be done individually, but imagine the power when you do them as a group! You need your vision restored, AND so does your spouse, your family, your co-workers, and your organization! Try doing these things together, or at least sharing the results together. Watch how energized you all get for the upcoming year!
Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day details of your life, staring at all the messy “dots.” Take a few steps back. Take a fresh look at the big picture. What you see—your new vision—may just take your breath away!
What steps will encourage you take a fresh look at this year’s vision?