From the “The Principles and Patterns of Building… Everything!”
A BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC Masterclass Series
The Second Principle of the Law of Organization
The second principle of the Law of Organization, in the overarching theme of “The Principles and Patterns of Building…Everything!,” is the Principle of Vision. What can you see with the eyes of your imagination? What do you envision?
There is an ancient proverb or saying that goes back thousands of years. It is this: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, Old Testament). What does this mean? What kind of vision? Perish, how?
As a child, I came from a family with six children. Needs were long and the financial means were stretched short, but my mom was (and is) extremely resourceful and had learned to sew, so she made many of my clothes up until I was in Junior High. As I got older, she would include me more actively in the process. We picked patterns together, studied the ideal types of fabric and textures for a piece's construction, and selected colors of thread and buttons or zippers to match, all while imagining what the product would look like when finished. If the piece didn’t turn out well because we had gotten the idea in our heads wrong, we couldn’t just throw it away. I had to wear it! No pressure! My mom had great taste so I trusted her to lead out in the final selection of the pieces we would need. I watched in amazement as the vision took shape in her nimble hands, just like she and I had imagined and organized it to be.
When my father went back to graduate school, and I was a Sophomore in high school, we had to return to sewing new clothes for school--just for a year--to stretch every dollar. This time, my mom leaned on my input much more heavily. We imagined and planned everything together. She even let me design a piece of my own that she was willing to sew. Multiple pants, shirts, and a skirt or two later, my 10th-grade wardrobe was envisioned, color-coordinated, and cut out on the dining room table. We were fully committed and I loved it. I was so proud of her! My mom could do anything!
Over the years, and with substantial mentoring, my mom taught me how to envision a final product, see how a single piece could fit into the whole collection, and carefully select and organize together all the pieces we needed on the sewing table before we could begin building. She taught me this same pattern when planning meals and shopping. She modeled it again when we decided to redecorate my room and needed to select linens, pillows, and drapery. She refused to buy prepackaged bed sets and instead insisted, in her gentle way, that we could do better and have something that looked more customized for the same price--or less. She taught me how to envision the end product, map the available resources, economically purchase the raw supplies, skillfully use the goods, and turn out just what we wanted. Sometimes, things wouldn’t go to plan, but she also taught me how to re-envision, when needed, and adapt. My mom hated waste. Everything was used.
This gift of imagination, of having a vision of what could be created long before it was tangible, that my mom gave me, proved invaluable when my husband and I found our bridal and prom wholesale and retail businesses in need of a new designer. James relied heavily on me to envision the right cuts, in the right fabrics, at the right price points, in the right time frames, in order for our business to stay viable. If there was no vision by me, as the designer, the business would begin to perish. If it waned, so would the bread and butter on our table. The designing branch of our business was not the only important piece, but it did absolutely matter to the health and prosperity of the company as a whole. Now, instead of my mother, I would take the lead. Where I had a vision, our business and five children could prosper more easily; were I to have had no vision, our business, and our 5 children would have certainly been adversely affected.
The Principle of Vision--where there is no vision, the people perish--is equally true of all aspects of organizing and building. Where there is no vision of unity and mutual sacrifice in a marriage, contention causes the hearts of the spouses and of their children to languish and perish. Where there is no vision of the value of an education, a student’s motivation to self-disciple perishes. Where there is no vision in supporting business ventures and enterprises, communities, cities, even governments, perish. Where there is no vision, the people perish. The Principle of Vision is applicable physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
How Does this Apply to the Law of Organization?
When we find ourselves in the first stage of building, when we start to organize our thoughts by increased awareness, the next natural step is vision--the spiritual creation that precedes all physical creation. When we undertake to create anything of value, our ability to accurately, clearly, and realistically envision what we want is crucial. Where there is no vision, our plans will perish. Clarity and honesty of vision have the power to be filters of all decisions we make, whether consciously or subconsciously, related to that vision. What we learn to see with spiritual eyes acts as a pattern or guide for our choices which lead us, step-by-step, to its creation.
Do you know what you want? Do you have a clear vision? Is it honest? Do you believe it? Does it match your core values? Let me share one exercise that will help with this process. It’s a quick writing brainstorm that answers three questions as quickly as possible. We’ll call it Part I. In this part, you’re not allowed to think about your answers first, nor should you spend any time judging it’s ethical or moral virtues. You’re just going to write--fast. Get a paper, journal, or napkin, and something to write with, or grab your phone or computer to jot down your thoughts. Set a timer for three minutes. That’s very little time so you’re going to have to capture only the most important things. Answer the questions as quickly and honestly as possible. Are you ready? Okay, here we go:
What do I want to become?
What do I want to have?
What do I want to accomplish?
Here is a more tidy format:
When we write what we most desire, our level of awareness increases. It links the subconscious mind to conscious reality and not only reveals but also connects the waking mind with our emotions and the deeper, motivating desires of the heart. This is a big deal!
Take a moment to let this sink in. What is your vision for all three of these things? What did you discover? Is it in line with the decisions you have been making recently? What decisions have you made lately that support these objectives? What decisions have you made recently that take you further away? Is there anything you are choosing which could harm this vision that you could improve, stop, or do better? Let’s call this discussion Part II.
Which choices have I made recently that support the vision of what I want to become?
What could I do better, if anything?
Which choices have I made recently that support the vision of what I want to have?
What could I do better, if anything?
Which choices have I made recently that support the vision of what I want to accomplish?
What could I do better, if anything?
Here is an organized format:
For what you have done and are doing now that supports your vision, celebrate! Keep going. Be as deliberate as possible. If you have written or thought about anything you could be doing better, that will become your next area of focus. Be emergent--adapt, change, be flexible. It’s as simple as that.
It’s important to note that the strategy for enacting Part I often reflects long term organizing, planning, and work--a deliberate strategy. As our awareness grows, the answers and solutions will change or evolve. This is natural and should not be a source of discouragement. Part II reflects a different strategy. It acknowledges that many elements of life are out of our influence and are the effects of what others create for good and for bad. But it also recognizes that our reactions are ours all while rejecting victim mentalities of any kind. We can be flexible while remaining focused. We can change strategies as new information comes while remaining dedicated to lasting principles and values--an emergent strategy.
What strategy do I use to evaluate my direction?
How often do I make adjustments to my strategy?
The nuts and bolts of living, and conversely of life planning, is not a one and done event. It’s organic, full of missing or incomplete information, unending, and unruly. We do the best we know at the time we know it. Sometimes it’s enough. Other times it's detrimental. I have been greatly benefitted by the teaching and writing of Clayton M. Christensen and credit him with introducing me to the terms deliberate strategy and emergent strategy. In 2012, he, along with James Allworth and Karen Dillon, published an immensely useful book entitled, How Will You Measure Your Life?. In chapter three, he introduces his approach to decision making using deliberate strategies and emergent strategies. In a nutshell, Christensen defines these strategies like this:
Deliberate Strategies: A firm and linear plan based on opportunities and conditions within one’s own ability to influence, create, or achieve. This includes “opportunities that you see and choose to pursue.” I would add that these opportunities are either offered to you directly or are created by you.
Emergent Strategies: The unanticipated opportunities and conditions that develop outside of one’s own ability to influence, while working to fulfill a deliberate strategy.
I especially love Christensen’s emergent strategy perspective because he acknowledges the messy, unpredictable, sometimes chaotic nature of life. One of my biggest complaints about goal setting I learned as a child was the implied rigidity associated with it and anticipating, with dread, the unspoken identity crisis that popped up when my plans went awry outside of my control. That kind of goal setting and strategizing is not real life. Not everything can be deliberate even when we want, want, need it desperately. When our awareness increases through unexpected opportunities, hiccups, windfalls, or even tragedy, we have to adapt to stay healthy. This does not mean we give up and lay helpless on the floor in the fetal position even if we need time to check out for a minute and regroup. The most deliberate paths may dissolve back into emergent opportunities. And emergent opportunities may become new or adapted deliberate paths.
Character Traits Suited to Balancing Deliberate and Emergent Strategies
I believe there are certain character traits that are more conducive to finding a pace of living that resists the chaotic or unpredictable nature of life. I’d be very curious to know what your list would include. Please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of the blog. I’m not sure my own list is comprehensive but I know it works for me. My list includes:
Sense of Humor: not flippant, vulgar, or detached but fully aware of how ridiculous things can be and learning to let it roll off without taking it personally. This includes the ability to let off steam in nondestructive ways.
Good Judgement: discerning the right thing (correct knowledge--awareness), in the right way (appropriate application of correct knowledge--understanding), at the right time. For more about the Principle of Awareness, read my blog dated January 7th, 2021.
Resilience through Faith: believing there is always an answer and pursuing it as though it were inevitable; believing that it will all make sense eventually because there is a God in Heaven who is neither arbitrary nor cruel and loves us beyond our current capacity to get, especially when life gets nuts.
Long Term Perspective through Hope: remembering that some things will last and grow eternally, like relationships, knowledge, and character--almost everything intangible. And that some things are replaceable, secondary, and temporary--almost everything tangible.
Compassion through Charity: this involves forgiveness and patience with not only others but also with myself. This is kindness, not from naiveté, but from a sensitivity to the nature and struggle of living which affects all of us.
Let me end with that for this week. Hold on to your brainstorm list. Next week I’ll show you some ideas for how to make more balanced progress by choosing a single focus area to work in and how to increase the power of your vision by creating a simple but effective BEAUTIFUL LIVING Vision Board.
The Principle of Vision fits into the greater Law of Organization. Please remember that I have workshops that teach all these principles and patterns in greater depth with printable, in-depth workbooks that invite greater personalization through participation. It can be done in either a do-it-yourself formula or live through ZOOM, or at a conference or school gatherings. Please email me for more information to suit your personal needs, the needs of your family, or of your group or organization at email@example.com. I’d love to help you, and those you influence, learn principles that help us all enjoy greater levels of fulfillment, connection, and productivity, and learn to...
Heather Roberts Butler
Founder and CEO of BEAUTIFUL LIVING, LLC
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