Yes, there is pain and suffering and inequity and broad systematic failures. This large-scale human physical and mental suffering surrounds us. It’s in the air we breathe..the gaps between us. We hold this pain in us as collective loss.
We can’t afford not to dream. Our dreams lift us up out of our current circumstances and offer us something to reach for, toward. Without dreams, we swirl in the agony of the current circumstance without a vision of where we want to end up.
Years ago, I experienced anxiety and depression like nothing I’d known before. I was unable to sleep, be with my kids, eat, or work. I was in a pit of agony and despair. It was the most painful thing I’ve experienced in my life. And yet, during those sleepless nights, I clung to a dream of better moments. A future in which I felt well, could appreciate the sunshine, good sleep...would be able to contribute my gifts to serve others. That dream helped me hang on through the agony. I didn’t know when that dream would happen…days, weeks, months…but I knew that eventually it would.
To be human is to dream. Our future depends upon our dreams.
Dreams have lifted people out of poverty, birthed our greatest inventions, catalyzed social justice.
Without dreams right now, we are in danger of missing out on the one positive of this moment: reinvention, reset, rebirth.
We don’t have to go back to the inequities, overwork, imbalances, and misaligned priorities of the past. We can create something different, but only if we give ourselves permission to dream. If not, we’ll end up rushing back to a future that is lightyears behind what is possible to create in this moment.
Leaders can dream for three futures:
1) The Immediate Future (tomorrow, next week)
2) The Proximate Future (a transition toward the new iteration of your organization; the one you dreamed up)
3) The Beyond Future (when your organization is vital, humming, thriving in its next iteration)
As a corporate leader, you are in a unique position to dream about the future of your company....what do you want to create? How will you build on the way you have served people and customers now? What norms are you creating right now that you want to hang onto in the Beyond Future? How will your organization transform in the Immediately, Proximately, and Beyond Futures?
As non-profit leaders, you are looking at what your constituents need right now. And next week. And next year. Are you dreaming up new ways to serve, to be a thriving organization in the Proximate Future? Are you looking at ways to collaborate, build upon synergies you’ve identified in this moment, and develop new models for service delivery now and Beyond?
Education leaders, what a moment to dream about a new way to educate children that embraces where they are and what they need without the trappings of one-size-fits-all. We are in a period of rapid education innovation. What would have taken a decade in distance learning changes has shifted overnight. Parents are so appreciating teachers right now. Build on the good will. Are you dreaming of creating systems that support staff just as you support students? Are you imaging a Beyond Future in which teachers and students are eager to learn, create, grow, and thrive? What if well-being were a priority for all students and staff? Build upon the creativity, innovation, and loosening of protocol…experiment, iterate, and play in the space of possibility in the Immediate Future; bring that with you to the Beyond Future.
Public health and social services, you have our attention. What’s your ideal vision for a healthcare system that serves everyone? Create it. Allow yourself to dream of what could be different to tackle inequity. This is your moment…paint a possibility for a new Beyond Future in which everyone’s basic needs are counted.
This is our moment: To dream. To create. To act boldly and build the Immediate, Proximate, and Beyond Futures of our dreams.
Rebecca Arnold, JD, CPCC, ACC
I’m about helping people reinvent themselves right now, to create a new life that is deeply aligned with their essence, what they’re good at, and what lights them up. If this resonates with you, let’s chat! 781-406-4895.