Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crystalize your vision, part 2

I hope you enjoyed answering the questions in Part one of this post as much as I did.  As I thought about what I would do with untold millions, I realized that I keep trimming my dreams down to 'realistic' (a euphemism for 'cautious and safe') ones.  It was a great opportunity to again think about the big future picture.  Yet, being fully present and clear today is my best preparation for the future I want. 

This week I watched Changing Education Paradigms, an RSA animate presentation.  The presenter talks about the disconnect between many typical educational systems and the current needs of the student and of society. I really liked his comment about the tendency to 'anesthetize' the children who aren't co-operating with the current system, deadening the senses, instead of waking them up to what they have inside them.  He said that our goal was to help them be fully alive and fully present.  Hopefully, the homework last week helped you take a step in that direction.  

You asked your daughter what she would do with all that money and she told you she would go to medical school to become a pediatrician, at the same time, setting up a center to help children with disabilities get the help they need. (all this in addition to buying you a new house, getting herself a new 6 figure $$ car and taking a trip with her friends to Hawaii)  This is a noble ambition, but still doesn't give you much to work with.  Let's say we ask her what she sees herself doing in the clinic, and she's seeing babies, talking to families about options for treatment and  support and helping her staff really be gentle and supportive with the kids and their family.  There are so many occupations/interests that fall into the scope of what she wants to do that I can't even list them, including everything from therapist, social worker, coach, HR manager, not to mention business owner.  It's too early to narrow the discussion down to occupation, but help her describe 3 different roles she sees herself playing.  From this example we can start with:
  • interacting, assessing kids
  • talking with/supporting families
  • being an information source about disabilities
  • business owner, director, manager
Now we have enough information to create a 1 year adventure, the journey to clarity!

I think one of the best ways to know if you really want to do something is to do it without expecting pay.  Help her identify 10 companies/organizations that have people in any  of the roles she sees for herself.  Encourage her to offer her services to them as a volunteer.  Although it would be ideal to find someone in the role she would want to be in and have her volunteer to do anything for that person, that might not even be necessary,  She needs only to be in the environment so she can see first hand what that person's life is really like.  Confirm 4-6 of these volunteer opportunities/internships.(they can be done sequentially, like volunteer for 2 months here and three months there, or 2-3  part time 6 month internships at a time)  Yes, she will be busy, maybe even tired, but the exposure is worth it.  Here are a few suggestions for your young person that may make the experience really useful:
  • Document her observations and feelings.  How does she feel on the way  to the job?  How does she feel when she's leaving?
  • Observe the people who are doing what she wants to do.  Ask to meet with them for a few minutes to understand a bit more about what they do.  Ask them what they think she should bear in mind to prepare herself for this role.
  • Choose a subject area that would be useful to know more about to handle this role well.  Find an online course or take it as a non-degree student at the local community college or find some good books/online sources and read.  Ask her to note how she feels as she is reading/listening to the material.
  • Choose someone in history (maybe the last 250 years) who has been successful in this role.  Read about them.  Choose someone anywhere within email contact that is currently successful and send them an email asking them about what they do.  Ask them if they could change anything, do it all differently, what would they do.
It doesn't really  matter how she wakes up, as long as she does
I could go on and on.  You get the idea.  There isn't any scripting the experience.  Think of yourself like a facilitator, a cheerleader on the sidelines. If one internship isn't working out, try another one.  If no clarity comes after a year, keep working at it.  Maybe more non-degree learning opportunities, perhaps help her to think about how to create the environment she would want.  Maybe you both do the homework again, changing some of the terms, the amounts of money.  Whatever you do, both you and your young person will have a wide awake experience, and that's what really matters.

This may lead to college/graduate school now, later or never.  What really matters is someone knowing that they are powerful enough to chart his or her own course, tuned in to the internal compass.

I really like Teflon's idea of starting with kids and doing it yearly and keeping the responses.  Sometimes the clarity is in the patterns that present themselves in the answers as the years go by.  By the way, if it's time for you to be courageous and strike out to do something you really want to do, don't let financial constraints stop you from volunteering.  The investment in the universe of you will bring almost infinite returns in clarity, new opportunities and the amazing wide-awake feeling.


  1. Faith, Great thought-provoking stuff!

    Just last night, I was thinking about one of my music composition classes that had been taught by a teacher who had been quite successful writing commercial music and jingles. He'd written the Sara Lee jingle "Everybody doesn't like something but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee" as well as jingles for Oscar Meyer hot dogs and bologna.

    One day, we all sat around after class talking about the business aspects of composing and what it's like to do it on a daily basis. We asked him why he'd decided to teach rather than compose. After all, he'd "made it!"

    I found his response completely unnerving. He explained that the life of a composer is a solitary one; it's lonely. He told us, if you really want to be successful as a composer, then you better like spending lots of time alone.

    At that time, the idea of spending hours alone every day with just a pencil and a stack of staff paper hadn't even entered my mind as one of the aspects of being a composer. I realized how important other aspects of music were to me: jamming with others, rehearsing, teaching and performing.

    I think we often spend so much time on the work-content of professions and the likelihood of success that we don't provide any education regarding the life-style content. Sure, it's cool to learn a new dental procedure, but how do you feel about doing the same thing every day for twenty years? It's awesome to play large venues before adoring fans, but what's it like to spend months at a time exploring the insides of hotel rooms?

    A homebody is unlikely to enjoy the work of an anthropologist in the field no matter how fascinating the content may be. A free-spirit may love children, but may not be the best candidate for parenthood?


  2. Tef: sounds like that teacher's response was quite a tip for you. I remember somebody once saying that the way we do high-school guidance counseling is all wrong. He said instead of asking the poor student "what do you want to do?" before s/he has tried even a fraction of what is available for do-ing, a more useful question to ask would be "how do you want to live?"

    Faith, thanks for following up on this topic and providing so much material to work with. I started doing your homework last weekend, but strangely experienced some internal resistance to going deep. I feel some useful insights coming along soon.

  3. I think that was what happened to me while thinking about doing medicine. I saw a friend leaving her baby with a sitter to do a 36 hours shift. She was crying, the baby was crying. I didn't want that. It is really about how we want to live.


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