Volume XXI, Number 28 (Issue 1032) July 10, 2023
A Blank Canvas
As I write this our home has the look and feel of an ant hill. Moving about in purpose-filled patterns at various times are carpenters, electricians, cabinetmakers, plumbers, masons, apprentices and helpers, the contractor, and a couple of other skilled individuals, each intent on doing their part to turn a blank canvas into something special. If there is any doubt, let me be clear – we are in the throes of a significant remodel of our home of thirty-three years.
The imagery of a blank canvas, or more accurately, painting over a used canvas, came to mind early Wednesday morning as I walked through the main floor after demolition had largely been completed. There, standing on a concrete slab where flooring had been only a couple days earlier, with the kitchen stripped away, holes in various walls and ceilings exposing raw plumbing, insulation, and electrical wires, in that moment and many of the moments that have led up to this, it was exciting to imagine what would soon be. I expect anyone who has built or remodeled a home or office knows the range of thoughts and emotions one experiences during the journey.
As you might expect, my thoughts did not end there. Soon, I began to appreciate the near perfect parallel with the strategic planning process. Whether such an initiative consists of crafting an updated vision tied to change at the margin, or there is a visionary element agitating for a radical departure from the past, the fundamentals are the same: craft a vision, refine it, share it, enlist others to help you execute, monitor your progress, then take a moment for all to celebrate and enjoy the fulfillment of your plan.
If only it were that straight forward, or manageable, when the topic is you or me. Most of us can manage some personal change at the margin, especially if we are motivated, have a plan, and a little help. But move from thoughts of a slightly better you to a new and improved version of you and suddenly the challenge can seem daunting. For starters, there are old habits, old patterns, and old thinking that must be overcome. Then there is the skepticism one encounters along the way. While some will support your efforts at personal change, others will either doubt your sincerity or subtly try to undermine what you are attempting to do out of their own fears of how your successful change effort will affect them.
But since creating something new and better is the order of the day, let me offer a few thoughts on how you can cause a vision to become reality. The first step is self-
awareness. You need to be honest with yourself. There are multiple tools and processes to help with that. Once you have a bias-free baseline, the next thing you will require is a goal (vision of the future you). Another key step is to fill your environment with visual aids and cues meant to remind you of your goal. Step four is to find and enlist an accountability partner. That individual must care for you enough to encourage you when you are on the right track as well as speak the truth to you whenever you fall into old patterns and old habits. Many find it helps to have a guide along the way – think counselor, coach, mentor, etc. You will also want to become a bit of a subject matter expert (“SME”) too. So, read, listen, study, observe, learn, and inwardly digest all you can about becoming a better version of yourself. Having a road map that includes interim stops (check-ins) along the route is also important. Just remember to celebrate the successes. And word to the wise, avoid getting down on yourself when you backslide or struggle. Instead, think of them as lessons learned. One last word of advice: do not put it off. As soon as you know your goal, put the initial excitement and energy that comes with that feeling to work. Otherwise, any self-doubts or others’ negativity has the potential to dissuade you from putting brush to canvas.
Soli Deo Gloria
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
J. Keith Hughey
Web site: www.jkeithhughey.com
Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.