Thursday, August 27, 2015

Forward Vision

Plant wheat...
I saw a quote this week that got me thinking. I think it's based on a Chinese proverb, and it goes like this:

If your vision is for a year, plant wheat
If your vision is for ten years, plant trees
If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people

I really like this quote, and it made me question whether my vision - my dreams and plans - were long term enough.

I began to wonder what wheat might look like in my life, i.e. something that provides immediate sustenance but regular work in sowing, harvesting and processing.

I wondered what trees might be - parts of my life which take longer to grow but which provide shelter, fruit, and strength. And I mulled over what it means to plant people, to sow into others, to raise up and equip those around me.
"If your vision is for a year, plant wheat..."
As I chewed it over more I began to question which one was more important than the others, leaning towards the lifetime vision of planting people, and re-evaluating shorter term goals... perhaps these are less important in the long run.

Plant trees...
But then I had something of an epiphany. It strikes me that these aren't binary either/or statements. It's not a case of picking one over another.

It's more a reminder that we need to hold the short, medium and long term in harmony with each other.

We need a vision for one year, ten years AND a lifetime. We need wheat, trees and people. It's inclusive not exclusive.

What are the important wheat, trees and people in your life? Have you articulated your short, medium and long term goals?

It's a delicate balance, because we need to attempt to live fully in the short term, whilst to the best of our ability making sure that our wheat-planting is enabling us to plant trees and plant people.
"We need a vision for one year, ten years AND a lifetime."
In my life my "wheat" vision is about providing for my family  - putting bread on the table - which for this season means committing to a day job that I'm grateful for. Planting trees is about allowing creative seeds to grow - writing, musicianship, craftsmanship are three of my key themes in the medium term.

Whilst I'm tending my wheat I need to ensure these trees are moving from seeds to saplings to maturity, so that means making regular habits of writing, songwriting, playing my instruments and making things. Some of these habits are more regular than others, but trees grow at different rates and the important thing is that they bear fruit in the right season.

Plant people...
It's in the area of the "lifetime" vision that I've been the most challenged. In many ways the short and medium term visions are a little selfish - focused on what provides for me and which fulfils me.

The lifetime vision turns that on it's head - out of the abundance of wheat, out of the fruit of the trees, how am I blessing and developing others?

As a dad, my immediate thought turns to my kids - what I am sowing into their lives, how am I serving them and helping them to be the best expression of who they're made to be? Am I giving them enough quality time?
"The lifetime vision turns that on it's head - how am I blessing and developing others?"
But broader than that, how am I reaching out to others in my community, in my workplace, elsewhere? I hope that this blog and my podcast are outworkings of this. My intention as I write and record is to share encouragement, challenge and inspiration to help you become the best expression of who YOU'RE made to be too.

It's great to dream big, to aim high in the long term, but we need to look to the mid term and short term too. Are there habits you need to develop - trees you need to plant - to meet those ambitions? What can you do in the short term, what crop can you sow? And who can you help on their own journey?

It's a myth that we have to be perfect to help others, often we just have to make ourselves available. Whatever your wheat, trees or people are, my prayer for you this week is for your vision to expand!
"Whatever your wheat, trees or people are, my prayer for you this week is for your vision to expand!"

Thanks for taking the time to read Forward Vision. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes for the audio version and much more (direct RSS feed is here). If you're reading in August 2015 then please vote for The Potting Shed Podcast to win an award for "Best Self Help Podcast" here.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you Luke, I really enjoyed reading your post, it has given me a lot to ponder on. Xx :)

Downshiftingpath said...

Hi Luke really enjoy your musings. It inspired me to take up my blog again downshifting path to simplicity when 5 yrs and ending up in a wheelchair nearly undid me, but I am the same person functioning on a much reduced life of less that 12 hours per day. Makes you prioritise. Thank you for all you do

Luke Strickland said...

Hi Anne, thanks for being in touch and I'm delighted you're taking up blogging again! Hope that goes really well and I appreciate your kind words, Luke