how to flow with the go to get what you want + give the world what it needs
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Basho
Common wisdom has it that first, you form your vision.
Then, you break it down.
You reverse-engineer a roadmap of goals and milestones that will take you from point Z to point A.
You become a man, or a woman, with a plan.
But any plan rests on a boatload of assumptions – about yourself, about the future, about the world around you – that may or may not be true. A lot of those assumptions are about things that are not within your control.
It could be that you fail to achieve your vision because it was never achievable in the first place.
Maybe instead of assuming that we create our own destiny, we need to shift to a different understanding. We co-create it. We work hand in hand with the shifting circumstances around us to understand how we can best use our talents and have real impact – in a way that still leaves us creatively satisfied.
We work to avoid the conflict between Karma and Dharma.
In his book Strategic Insight: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement William Duggen defines Karma as “the full set of circumstances the universe presents to you that are beyond your control.” He goes on to say
Your Dharma is your own set of thoughts and actions. These are within your control. You find your Way by sorting out what exactly is within your control and what is not, and then finding the particular thoughts and actions…that best fit what is beyond your control…You do what you can, not what you want. Your Dharma follows your Karma.
And in his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries presents the notion of “validated learning”. Your aim, in the beginning, isn’t to present to the world a perfect and perfectly completed Thing (that the world may not want in the first place), but to test the assumptions your Thing depends on to find out what is true, what works – and what doesn’t.
He writes about “Build-Measure-Learn”: you build the minimum viable version of whatever it is that you’re working on, show it to people, find ways to measure reaction and impact, and learn, learn, learn. You then apply that learning to the next version of your Thing. And so on. The aim is to cycle as swiftly as possible to make as much progress as possible.
(In my world we refer to this process as “the writer’s workshop”.)
Keep in mind, you are not asking people what they think they want. People are generally resistant to change and don’t know what they want until they have it — and then wonder how they lived without it in the first place.
Instead, you’re studying the conversation between you and your audience. Change doesn’t happen with one individual, but in the spaces, the interactions between them.
You search out those spaces where your strengths and desires naturally intersect with that conversation, instead of falling beyond it where no one is listening.
When necessary, you pivot – you change your direction – you find a new way to follow your Vision or perhaps change that Vision to reflect what you know now that you didn’t know before.
So instead of blindly imposing your Vision on the world, you stay closely connected to that world through observation, experimentation and insight. And the more you learn about the different pieces of your Karma…the more likely it is that those pieces will combine and recombine with what’s already in your mind to produce a flash of creative insight that alters your Vision (in a good way) or gives you a new one.
You flow with the go.
But you do it in a way that
sets yourself up to have flashes of creative insight that can influence both your ‘flow’ and your ‘go’.
Instead of thinking of destination first, journey second….you focus on the journey: what you learn, how it feels and how it changes you. You let your Vision arise from that.
Journey first, destination second.
What do you think?