Times are tough (duh!). Individuals, community organizations, and our communities themselves are not sure how they will survive. We are justifiably SCARED, and that fear colors everything we do, every decision we make.
But we humans have a rare gift. We have the ability to consider not only what is frightening but also what is possible.
Our survival fears are hard-wired into us. During millions of years of evolution, that fear has not simply been a psychological function; it is a physical presence of chemicals and nerves that connect to help us physically react to danger. No wonder fear and survival are so often our first response!
That said, fear does not have to be our only response. Yes, times are hard. The reality of our economy is absolutely scary. Even with all that, we still have the potential to be extraordinary, kind, healthy, compassionate – as individuals, as organizations, and as communities. Each of us sees inspiring evidence of that every day.
But man, it can be hard to keep that focus! Not ten minutes after being inspired by our potential, we find ourselves once again mired in circumstances we do not want to be in and decisions we don’t want to have to make.
How can we remind ourselves, then, to sustain our attention on our potential – to focus on what is possible for long enough that we can begin putting that potential into action?
The Possibility Challenge
To help us remember to see our potential, I propose a challenge. I propose for one week, starting today, that each of us keep a Possibility Journal.
Every day for a week, start the morning by considering every task and every meeting you have that day. Include home tasks and work tasks, every encounter you think you might have that day whether it is scheduled or simply anticipated. “Helping the kids with their homework” might be one. “Going for my morning walk” or “Appointment with the auditor.”
For each of those tasks, note 2 things:
1) What is possible?
2) What strengths do you bring to that task?
What is possible could be a concrete outcome. It could be that we help someone else find THEIR potential. Or it could simply be that we are grateful and compassionate with the people we encounter and meet with. What is the potential? What is possible?
And then what strengths, gifts, talents do you bring to that task? Your strengths are not just your own gifts, but the values and gifts of all the people around you. They include the strengths of each person you will be encountering. How can you identify the strengths THEY bring to this encounter?
That’s it. What is possible, and what is strong. Line that out every morning in anticipation of your day.
If you are feeling ambitious, at the end of the day, note what you observed throughout the day. Did your journal help you move something forward? Create a better outcome? Simply make the day more pleasant? Did it do nothing at all? Did you forget what you wrote the minute the day started? (It happens – don’t kick yourself – this is an experiment, remember?)
Then next Tuesday, let’s see what the results were.
We cannot change the past. And we cannot change the present (the present is fleeting, and is gone by the time I type these words!). But we can affect the future. Let’s see if this journal helps us do that.
What do you guys think? Are you game for trying? I look forward to learning alongside you as we see what happens!