“Realistic” people who pursue “practical” aims are rarely as realistic or practical in the long run of life as the dreamers who pursue their dreams. – Hans Selye
As it’s the beginning of the year, I find myself defining and discussing strategy in many aspects of my life and work. Entrepreneur clients working with me as a business coach want to figure out how to make 2011 a better year. My housemates and I regularly fall into co-imagining (and drooling over) what we’d like to produce in the garden this season. Headed into the final production of my PhD dissertation, I’ve been assessing how I can bring an artful and practically successful approach to reviewing mounds of data and articulating what’s essential, meaningful, wonderful. The non-profit board I lead works collectively to shape a sustainable path that supports the organization’s long-term benefit to human life and social change.
The word strategy tends to bring business and/or military contexts to mind. But I’m attracted to this definition: an adaptation or complex of adaptations (as of behavior, metabolism, or structure) that serves or appears to serve an important function in achieving evolutionary success. Strategy is about learning and changing. It’s a process of reflecting on factual and experiential intelligence, evaluating success, imagining possibilities, and forging these combined insights into a plan of action that we sense has the potential for greater success. Through strategy, we adapt consciously with an orientation to our values, desires and dreams.
Organizations make large investments in strategic planning. But, in working with EveryDay Leaders, I find that strategy is overlooked or seen as a mystifying process for which people are unsure they have the time. “Who me? Have a strategy? That’s someone else’s job. I’m not big or important enough!” So many of us live immersed in the streaming river of our experience, rarely mining the learning through which to shape ourselves, our endeavors, and our human future. And yet, right now, our adaptation to the ever-more-apparent-Big-Changes-on-the-planet is the main work at hand.
I hope you really grasp how important you are in the bigger picture of “making up what comes next”. I eagerly invite you to step into leadership, into active engagement with yourself, your life, and your environment. Know your fears but don’t sink to their level. I challenge you to create an evolutionary strategy. Yes! This is tough and worthy work! Take the time to honestly reflect, alone and with others, on a regular basis. Combine the factual and the imaginal to see yourself, your work, your family and community, your environment (both natural and human-made) – in 5, 10, 20 years. Believe in a satisfying and joyful future. Take action on adaptations – what you can do now that contributes to both current and evolutionary success. I’m right there with you.