“I don’t want to feel this way anymore….”
I heard this phrase uttered countless times during my six years as a therapist, and often shared within the first few minutes of our opening session. It carried a mix of emotions for whomever said it. From deep sorrow and anxiety about the current reality to a hopeful anticipation of the future now that they had taken that first step towards change.
You may have uttered similar phrases. I know I have many times:
- I wish things were different…
- What if…
- It doesn’t have to be this way…
- We could…
- Wouldn’t it be nice…
These statements can be made about any context — your marriage, business, a renovation project, as a leader or a team member — and can be accompanied by a host of emotions: excitement, enthusiasm, and anticipation to worry, uncertainty, even fear. Whatever the context or emotions, two underlying perceptions are acknowledged by it:
- The current reality is not “perfect”
- There is a future that improves upon the current reality
Pay attention when you voice one of these statements. It is the beginnings of creativity and can be the spark for innovation and a powerful vision!
Note: Often the emotions of anxiety, worry, fear, etc. are stronger when you cannot yet see a future that improves upon the current reality.
Emotions of hope, excitement, and creativity are stronger when you either 1. See a way forward or 2. Feel competent/capable of creating a way forward.
A Bold Vision
Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to take my son to Disney World for the first time. Talk about a vision born from creativity! Wandering through Star Wars: Galaxies Edge, watching the 3D Muppet Show, blasting Emperor Zurg in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, or going underground in A Bug’s Life… it was fascinating to watch him be immersed in the experience. Honestly, I was as engaged as he was in every show, ride and park!
Disney World exists because Walt Disney made a bold “What if” statement based on his perception of a current reality and a preferred future. An article in the Smithsonian Magazine written in 2012 put it this way, “Disney believed that by the mid-1960s urban America was beyond repair and that the answer to our nation’s problems lie in starting from scratch.”
Mentioned in the CNBC documentary, “Walt: The Man Behind the Myth,” the vision for Disney World began as “Project X.” Instead of a theme park, Walt envisioned the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow—Epcot.” A planned utopian city that addressed the growing needs and challenges of urban America.
Following his death in 1966, the plans for Epcot were drastically reduced but it still stands as a testament to Walt’s acknowledgement that the current reality was not perfect, and a better future existed.
Turn Creativity Into Vision
Walt’s vision boldly addressed issues on a national scale. How can we create a vision of the future that addresses our current reality and draws us to a preferred future? What does it look like to change the world around you for the better?
When responding to my clients, I framed the following conversation with this statement:
“It is better to run towards something than away. When running away you don’t know where you will end up and if you ever have arrived.”
Creating a clear picture of what we are running towards is vitally important to any successful change. How do we move from “What if” or “I wish” to “Here is how.”
Walt phrased it this way, “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. Finally, dare.” What can you do to think, dream, believe and dare?