Thursday, December 17, 2009

Putting it all Together – Part 9 Juggling on a Tightrope Or Things that Go Splat

Most people need to know the permission to dream big, I am generally not one of those people. I need to scale mine back more often than not, and it was hard to accept that world domination was not in my future. I love to dream. It is a beautiful activity where life looks like I want it to look, I can actually dance and people don’t laugh, and it is free. So this entry is for those of you who are like me, our dreams are big, bold, and completely beyond all realms of possibility.

The problem for me is once I have the kernel of a good idea, I have to improve on it. If having an event with fifty people is great, than we really want 350, and if setting up one event is exciting than planning twelve is amazing. And for some odd reason, it all seems completely possible in my mind, but what winds up happening is I over commit. I try to juggle too many balls while balancing on a tightrope and I am always surprised when I go splat.

At our first Pagus event, Barbie Jared (who is now one of our speakers, check her out), told me, “Don’t despise small beginnings.” We had way over planned and as a result spent more money than necessary to be prepared for people who did not show up. It was disheartening. We had prayed about this, and we truly believed that this was something God intended for us to do. And it was, we learned a lot but I wish the price of education wasn’t quite so high.

Barbie and I really did not know each other that well at the time. We had grown up together, but had never really been close friends. (She is significantly older than me.) Over the years she had gone on to do her thing and I had done mine. What we did not know was that within a very short time after the conference, she and I would be pursuing our dreams together. Now I get to remind her, “Don’t despise small beginnings.” Got to love that.

The point to this part of the story is I needed someone to remind me that we all start somewhere, and like or not, it is usually small from our perspectives. It is the conference with thirty people and a hundred empty seats. It is Bible study in our living rooms, the painting that sells for $2o, the two talents, and the mustard seed. The small stuff that has been entrusted to us. So what are we going to do with it?

Do we lament the fact that this wasn’t as quick and easy as we thought it should be? Do grow tired and bitter with the years of tending a dream often demands to survive? Do we rail against the mustard seed for not being Jack’s magic beans? Or do we find a way to celebrate the small beginnings, grateful for a chance to be part of the process? Humbled by the fact you were given a gift to start with?

These small beginnings have all the elements within them for great things. We just have to be faithful and attentive to their needs. When we over commit or allow other ideas to overshadow the original vision we stretch ourselves way too thin and we will soon find we do not have the resource to care for anything properly. It is not to say that the other ideas aren’t good or worth pursuing, but we need to guard the vision. Often a good idea is simply a distraction in disguise.

Dream and dream big. Let your mind go there every so often, but never lose sight of the original vision. The vision may grow and morph, but ask yourself “Does this fit with what I have been called to do?”, “Does this move me any closer to the ultimate goal?” or “Does this move resources like time, money, and energy away from my primary calling?”

In order to know the answers to these questions, we have to know what the dream is to begin with. We have to have its borders defined. We have to know what it looks like, feels like, and smells like if we are to remain on course. Write it down, give your dreams some tangibility. In fact, you should really have two sets of writings. One with your dream clearly defined. The dream you know you are suppose to chase, the one you want to be remembered for in your obituary. The second writing should be all the good ideas that float your way. The things that you would do if you never needed to sleep, had unlimited funds, and an army to implement them.

The first one is your northern star, showing you how not be pulled of course by unruly winds and choppy waves. The second is the place where good ideas can be born, some to be used to fulfill your dream, some to be discarded, and some to be given over to other people to pursue.

The thing is about a tightrope, we are supposed to walk across them not simply stop in the middle to do another performance. The goal is much like the chicken’s – to get to the other side. If we stand out there too long, no matter how great our juggling is, or however entertaining we might be, we all wind up going splat. It’s that forward moment that help us stay balanced, don’t lose it.

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