Sshhh! Be Careful With Your Vision
Recently, I was introduced to a new customer. We became friends and on my visit, we shared stories. Turns out my new friend was accomplished in her own right. Earlier in her life, she engaged in missions abroad. She did so for years. Returning from her work abroad, she decided to enter the market. But, to earn higher wages and subsequently become financially independent, she needed college training. But, that’s not what stole my attention.
First, she engaged in government service. She was a Data Entry personnel. Basically, this position entailed inputting information she read from forms into the PC. She also formatted software codes exactly as she was shown. While at it, she realized she loved the idea of coding. She had a 6th sense for it. She could read more on the subject and gain incredible knowledge. She could understand it. It was still the 90’s and she realized computers were still being introduced, codes were not yet a “normal thing,” and there were few people in the field, which meant a higher barrier to entry. All this meant big bucks.
She decided to become a software technician. To do this, she needed more training. This meant raising money to finance her education. She entered the transportation business. She became a cab (taxi) driver. She did so for several years. She shared stories about the people she met, yelled at, and those she fought with to receive payment. Upon completing her training, she worked for a few companies and finally became an independent contractor. She started her own business. She did well for herself. She seemed to be doing so well. However, the next thing she said grabbed my attention.
I had just finished talking to her about developing dreams and visions, and asked her to listen to “The Need to Bring Your Dreams to Life,” an earlier recording on Office of the Visionary Soundcloud account. I was looking for feedback. In the middle of listening, she stopped and told me of an idea she once had to start and run a business project abroad. It also involved training young girls. She felt this to be God-inspired, something she wanted to do as part of her life and business. But, she did nothing about it and she regretted this. Here’s the brief story.
Earlier in her life, she had a vision. Exuberant, she took this to “all” her peers and family members. Perhaps, I don’t need to tell you what happened. Her vision and enthusiasm was met with a barrage of disdain, opposition, negativity, hate, jealousy, threats, and expressions of fears. Needless to say, all this, coming from a circle of people whom she loved and who barely knew her passion, burnt her faith senses. It shut down the plans, passion, and vision she had. She shutdown her faith. The still small inner voice which said, “It is possible” grew thin and silent as she stopped listening to it. She gave up the vision because of the fear of man. She let it go. This was over 20 years ago.
Fortunately, over two decade later, our conversation awakened this passion again. Actually, one statement did. It was a lesson I learned from Rabbi Daniel Lapin which is this: “Having a vision is necessary. But, sharing that vision, is not.” Initially, she had the inspiration, but before she materialized it, it was shut down and lost. Others may not have been able to see the vision as a possibility, but it didn’t mean our friend could not. Others projected their fears on her vision. They convinced her otherwise. This is sad because the fact that big dreams seem impossible is precisely what makes them a promising adventure.
What made this story sadder is that doors of opportunity had begun opening to her. She came into favor with the ruling authorities of this country and received a significant piece of real estate to start her vision. Did I mention it was a gift, a sign of appreciation for the vision? Indeed, it was. It seemed time and chance were on her side. It seemed as though this dream had divine providence defending its cause. But, after she became discouraged and abandoned the vision, she never returned to develop it. Hence, it was seized and she lost it.
Our conversation helped her realize that she didn’t need to share the vision. And even though she received opposition, she didn’t have to give up. All she needed to do was decide on what to do. She needed to make a move with this renewed passion or allow the wind to carry this inspiration to someone else. Well, within a few days of our meeting, she made plans to take a trip abroad, taking her work with her. I found out about 2-3 weeks later.
She moved out of her house and then booked a flight abroad. She did make it to her destination and it seems her plans are falling into place. She found someone willing to speak to the County authorities to reclaim her property. She is in her 50’s. When you age, you realize just how precious time is. You realize just how important making an effort for your dream really is. It seems you begin to feel the prick of regret. She didn’t have to stop earning a living. No! She carried it with her for the duration of time she was gone. She has begun developing this dream alongside. She may be returning married too. Good for her. Let’s defer for a moment to ancient Jewish wisdom.
In the episode of Joseph and his brothers we find our first clue to this wisdom. Joseph had a God-given inspired dream to become ruler of some sort. How, where, and by what means—these were all unknown like every vision starts off being. Caught up by the excitement, in his arrogance and pride, Joseph shared the details of his dream with everyone especially his brothers who were already angry with him. He did in such a way that it warranted recording in the holy text. More than once, he shared it.
Perhaps, he was hoping to receive some type of acceptance or affirmation like we all do every now and then. Instead, they opposed him, not the idea, when they said, “Do you think you are going to be a king and rule over us (1)?” Even his father said, “What kind of dream is that? Do you think your mother, your brothers, and I are going to come and bow down to you (2)?” Already wrought with hatred toward Joseph for his nosy actions, his brothers hated him even more. They became jealous of him. The rest is history.
His brothers plotted to kill him. They stripped him of his garments when he came looking for them to bring them food, threw him into a cistern, and later on sold him into slavery. It would be 22 years, over two decades, before Joseph’s dreams or ruling would materialize. His parents and brothers did end up bowing down to him. But this, to his parents and siblings, Joseph’s dreams were just—a utopia, a euphoria, a spur of the moment, a disposable feeling, an impossibility, a stupid dream.
Is it possible that Joseph’s dream could have happened some other than being sold into slavery? Is it possible that if Joseph didn’t share the vision which caused these feelings and actions to follow, something else could have happened to make him a ruler somewhere? The answer is yes, because life is full of possibilities. But we can never know for sure. We know that even in the midst of suffering, there was mercy and favor to get him to the point where he needed to be.
Still, the point remains. Be careful about sharing your ideas, your plans, your vision. Be careful who you share it with. At least, if you do, be prudent. What you have is only inspiration, still working its way to your heart. A premature disposition of your ideas, thoughts, dreams, and visions may invite verbal abuse and opposition from the wrong forces which will dwarf what you carry into non-consideration.
Here’s another piece of counsel in this story. When you share an idea or a vision with someone or a group of people and instead of your idea receiving constructive criticism, you are being criticized, be concerned. It tells you that your current audience is not the right one to bounce your ideas or brainstorm on your vision. It tells you that your audience is not invested in your growth and future. Back off or be careful what you say. Contrast this story with the one below.
Nehemiah in his early years was a noble wine steward. He heard that his homeland, now part of the Persian empire, was in ruins. He first engaged Emperor Artaxerxes (the father of Xerxes from the movie “300”) to allow him to return to his kin with contracts for supplies to build the broken city. He arrived the city but kept his plans a secret. This is how his movements are described.
We read of Nehemiah, “I went to Jerusalem, and for 3 days I did NOT tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, I got up and went out, taking A FEW of my companions with me.” Then later, after scoping the area and devising plans for reconstruction, we read, “NONE of the local officials knew where I had been or what I had been doing. So far I had not said anything to any of my fellow-Jews—the priests, the leaders, the officials, or anyone else who would be taking part in the work (3).”
But, once he saw what the city looked like and estimated what he needed to do, he proceeded with caution and with carefully crafted words to inform those who would be involved. Once he had developed his vision into the planning stage, he shared it with his kin – those who would assist him in the rebuilding of the city. Why now? At least, if the people could not believe in his imagined vision, they would be able to visualize it now that Nehemiah had plans drawn out and some concepts explained. Its no surprise that with these skills, Nehemiah subsequently became Governor of this city. His actions give us the last clue.
Contrasting Joseph and Nehemiah, we can now unlock this wisdom from the pages of the ancient life giving scroll using the two clues from the two stories. In every line of commerce and enterprise, learning to be confidential and developing a unique inner circle, one based on trust, is essential. Call it the faithful few, your Peter, James, and John.
Practicing confidentiality is vital in bearing and developing your ideas. Your predisposed idea can be overhead, overhauled, stolen, and copied. This is precisely the reason for patent and copyright laws—to protect the rights of the creator/inventor/writer, allowing him or her to be rewarded for the use of his or her creation.
We do speak before thinking sometimes, instead of think before speaking. We are human and excitement can set us sailing high waters before we raise the sails of our boats. So, if you do share those ideas, dreams, and visions carelessly, you might have as well destroyed the engine meant to carry you into a lifetime of blessings, purpose, and achievements.
Therefore, keep in mind that having a vision is necessary, because “Where there is no vision, people perish (4).” Nevertheless, sharing that vision is NOT!
~by Ishmael Asaba