I’m not a dreamer. I’m not a visionary. Possibilities elude me. Passions are often fairly subdued. And yet, all of these things are vital for me to be the best contributor I can be.
So, I decided to give myself some help. I created a reflective, conversational activity to stimulate my heart and mind to birth some vision and engender some possibilities about what I would like to see accomplished in and through my life.
(I originally referred to this activity as a ‘game’…but when I shared it with a fairly competitive friend of mine, and mentioned that this ‘game’ had no points and no winners, she responded: “Yeah, perhaps then you shouldn’t call it a ‘game’….”)
The premise is this: sometimes I fail to embrace a personal burden or passion because too many things that I think are worthwhile seem unattainable due to a lack of resources…there isn’t enough time, or money, or knowledge, or people, or… in order to accomplish an aim that seems really exciting. As a result, for me, perceiving these limitations in advance, I tend to not even let myself go there and to discover what interests and desires may lie buried beneath the surface of simple maintenance-level engagement in my life and work.
In one particular season, shortly after our daughter was born, I found myself especially at a place where I was without time, energy, or inclination to think about the future at all. I was caught firmly in mere survival mode, in the humdrum of doing what was necessary to fulfill my basic home and work responsibilities, but without any hope for anything else, anything new, anything stimulating, or exciting, or rewarding.
It’s at that time that I created this activity, as a place where I could pull my head and my heart up out of my current circumstances and to look out beyond, as well as to look down deep, to get in touch with the projects, the aims, the opportunities that would quicken my heartbeat and set my spirit on fire.
Spending 30 minutes with my wife taking turns and answering the questions of “What would you do if someone gave you…?” brought us both a few moments of relief and inspiration and togetherness. We enjoyed hearing from one another, and noticed some similarities about our desires for ourselves and our home that got us talking. Even though the question is posed from a place where resources aren’t a factor, we were able to talk through how we could make some progress in certain desires even within our currently available time, energy, and finances.
Knowing that I was so depleted that I wouldn’t even be able to phrase the question without some help, I created a quick chart of some various resources, quantities, and purposes–because I knew that if the questions were too open they would be too overwhelming for me to answer! Coupled with a few standard dice, I was finally ready to explore what makes me tick!
You can download and print the activity chart for free here (PDF): “If someone gave you” Activity
In brief, you roll a die to determine a resource (e.g. time, money, knowledge/skill/ability), then you roll a second die to determine the quantity (e.g. days, weeks, hundreds of dollars, professional-level of ability; sometimes an additional die roll to determine how many days or weeks or hundred of dollars), and then a final die roll to indicate a particular purpose (e.g. to invest in a hobby, to improve your home, to engage in personal development). Then you string all of these items together to form your question:
“What would you do if someone gave you 3 days to invest in your hobby?”
“What would you do if someone gave you $400 to improve your home?”
“What would you do if someone gave you 2 weeks to engage in personal development?”
(An animated PowerPoint slide to demonstrate the activity is available here.)
Amazingly, when asked these simple, specific questions–even amidst feeling generally depleted and unimaginative–I had little problem answering: “Take a photography workshop!” “Replace our toilet and seal our windows!” “Audit some seminars on the enneagram tool for self-awareness!”
While there is life-giving delight in realizing, and sharing, these ideas, something else even more remarkable has happened: since voicing them, I’m actually taking some steps toward fulfilling these desires. I signed up for a 1-day photography workshop. Our toilet is now fixed. And I researched an online enneagram course. Maybe those things aren’t on the same scale of what was posed to me in the questions, but they’re at least steps in the right direction, steps toward engaging the deep places of who I am, the things that concern me, interest me, the areas where I desire greater engagement and ownership.
If we are to be excellent followers–let alone healthy human beings–awareness of, and acting upon, these burdens and passions is one of our greatest personal resources. When we have a sense of vision, calling, objective, purpose, and ownership which we can clarify for ourselves and articulate to others, we then have some directions in which we can make some concrete steps. And those steps will be all the more effective and fruitful because they are places that we actually desire to go!
How’s your sense of vision and possibility these days? This is a question not just for you as an individual but for whatever groups you may be a part of as well: your workplace, your community association, your family, your church. Explore together how you might be able to make some real progress in fulfilling some deep desires which excite your very best contributions and bring you together alongside of others who have similar vision and passions!
Download the chart and instructions for this activity, along with other free resources, from the Companion Resources page of this website.
For more encouragement and guidance in growing in self-awareness, pursuing your vision, and helping others to do the same, see:
Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture (by Allen Hamlin Jr; Feb 2016), and A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups (Dec 2017).
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