A vision driven life adds meaning and process for fulfilment in life. Added to this if the two individuals married and working together are social entrepreneurs the challenges and path so formed can be very interesting and more fulfilling. This is an article written to share an experience of living and working together; emerging from social work background and contributing to the world in terms of concepts, processes, tools and techniques. It also outlines the key foundational elements and the learning of over two decades of life which can be left behind for the youngsters who are contemplating the same.
Walking in the path of vision being guided by calling is one of the most fulfilling dimensions of life. A life without vision is devoid of meaning. When we are able to identify a vision and dedicate our life to it, life becomes a continuous process of learning, integrating and evolving. Added to it, when the vision is grounded in well-being of the larger world, everything in the consciousness converges itself to connect, correlate, create and converge thereby fulfilling the purpose of life in the best possible way. As a social entrepreneur looking deeply into self and connecting to life moment to moment last 28 years has been an exciting, value adding and evolving journey. When this journey is done along with a fellow social worker who is willing to walk the vision, share life and believe in what I do, the acceleration to the journey can be manifold.
I met Kalpana, in Bangalore University Social work department as a participant of my first workshop for students. We soon realized we connected to the vision and were willing to be married to the vision as a part of being married to each other. Social work education and the exposure to introspection through human process labs were major contributors for both of us to commit to a vision and live the same for over two and half decades of active life.
My life vision has been ‘To understand self and with that understanding leave behind some ways for others to understand themselves’. Joining me in this vision was my better -bitter half, my partner, companion and wife Kalpana, who has walked along in pursuing the vision. Each of us had our own unique personality and competence that was converged to create and build a research and consulting organization ‘Arpitha Associates’ (www.arpitha.com) with a vision - “To enable and embed evolutionary excellence by focusing on the foundational elements of Vision, Values & Learning and their inter dynamics, at both individual and organizational levels.” The vision also grew and in the last two years it’s been heading towards “To Make the World a Better Place to Live, Work and Excel”.
Meaning of Vision
Identifying a vision and pursuing that is not actually a difficult issue. But trusting it and dedicating a lifetime to it surely seems to the biggest challenge most of us face. The world is not devoid of great thinkers and idea makers. It is certainly needs a lot many who can relentlessly pursue and submit their life to it. That is what actually makes a true entrepreneur. When the entrepreneur is willing to look at society and its evolution, he/she is a social entrepreneur.
For some endowed people, their life vision unfolds in a dramatic way as an occurrence and they pick it up. For many of us normal events in life occur and we need to deeply introspect, identify, believe, choose and pursue a vision that makes sense to self and the larger society. In both the cases it is ultimately a matter of choice, hard work and commitment. Once this is done the magic that happens is the same in both cases.
Vision is the direction in which the individual is dreaming to walk. Vision is like the north-star that provides the anchorage in all decision making processes through life. Every vision has several missions to be achieved in a lifetime. Every mission has several goals. Every goal may have several plans and every plan may have several strategies. To journey on the path of vision, every activity of the individual in 24hours of life has to be connected to it. Vision enables quicker, faster choice making therefore decision making ability of the individual.
Each of us is like the sunrays which is valuable by itself. But when a magnifying glass is used to converge the many rays of sunlight, it creates an additional source of energy, i.e., fire. Vision is like the magnifying glass which can converge the energy, efforts, ideas and focus of the individual towards fulfilling their life purpose. It also enables sustenance and evolution.
Characteristics of a vision
• Vision is something personal. No one other than the person can live one’s vision.
• Vision gives meaning to every action of the individual, like a lighthouse that guides.
• Vision must be attainable. It is also like the horizon that keeps stretching beyond the limits and boundaries.
• Vision also gives a lot of scope for defining realms. It gives direction to ones movements in life.
• Vision is something that would not change often in time. If the movement of the individual is torn into several directions the ultimate achievement in any one direction will be very less.
• Vision is something that can expand and stretch the capability of a person to use his/her full capacity in their lifetime.
• Vision is something in fulfilling which the individual finds high energy.
• Vision has to have a competitive edge. But it must also be able to transcend competition and look at evolution.
• Vision enables the individual to determine the direction of their movement
• If the vision has to be sustained it should be larger than self and rooted in fundamental values and larger well-being
Vision is not restricted to individual but every organization needs to have a vision. If an individual is to work within the organization, the individual needs to have clarity on both the vision to align the same for growth and evolution.
The connectedness to work and personal life, when driven by vision that is larger than self, has resulted in development of concepts, processes and assessments that can enable growth of the individuals and move them towards excellence. This directly contributes to the growth and evolution of the society too.
The dynamic world today is looking forward to 4Cs – Connect, Correlate, Create and Capitalise. Knowledge is not the edge any longer. Knowledge is available easily. But the ability to connect two pieces of knowledge, create the third and integrate into life is a niche that world looks for. That has been a way of life for us last 30 years. This is an ability that has to be nurtured and when the vision path is clear, the 4Cs lead to being on the edge tickling the creative bone continuously.
Challenges on the path of vision
Living together, sharing profession and personal life, driven by purpose and values have had its own challenges. The world usually experiences the outcome but the processes that go to create the outcome are not usually paid attention to. Like how everything in the world is designed based on paradox and opposites, we are also two individuals who are powerful in our own ways, personality, life orientation and anchorages. While I am driven by the vision larger than self working through the head, Kalpana is a person driven by faith in God working through heart. While I am a creative, critical thinker, willing to flow; she is a structured doer and an artist with well laid out systems and processes pursuing a clear end point. While I am a person who loves to be by myself, introspect, go deeper and dig to learn; she is a person who loves to be with people, interact, create and give energy, do multiple things and share love to learn. While the opposites can be challenging, seeing that as parts of a whole and learn from that can make life complementary adding acceleration and strength.
Facilitative dimensions in life together
There are certain ways of being that enable convergence of the opposite personalities to become complementary and value adding. The foundational dimensions among them have been -
• To allow the person, to be who they are and draw the best out of them.
• Have a holistic perspective to personal and professional life requirements and allow the core competence of each to do their bit for the whole without interference.
• Understand and appreciate that what each one brings to the floor is important and both are needed for completion of any task.
• Be willing to sacrifice, submit and do what needs to be done than what one wants to do in every sphere of life.
• Keep the vision as larger than self and lend to the vision with absolute humility.
• Know that the identity comes from ‘being’ than from ‘becoming’ as an end result.
• Realize that there is a larger purpose to life; everything that happens has a purpose and one is a student of life which is a continuous eternal school.
These foundational elements have sustained and value added leading to a productive relationship. They have left behind certain key learning.
• Clarity of vision and purpose drive connects to each other. Emotions and heart are a supportive factor. When faced with value conflicts and challenges the best anchorage is the vision. It is like a rope that can help in sustaining during the difficult times and give clarity. Caught in the emotions and play of the heart a lot of energy and time are wasted in resolving issues. A marriage to a vision is equally important for two individuals as much is a marriage with each other.
• In the last 24 years we not only pursued a common vision but also allowed and enabled the individual vision to blossom. While the direction of movement has been converged, the individual branches have emerged drawing out of the core competency of each individual. Right from both of us completing doctorate degree to entrepreneurial ventures spanning from IT to not for profit organization it has resulted in exploration and experiments in varied fields.
• ‘Vision with action is merely a dream; Action without vision just passes the time; Vision with Action can change the world’ (adapted from Joel Barker – power of vision). Our personality combination allowed for deep thinking and quick action leading to a range of products and processes. We have been able to work in over 8 countries with over 2500 workshops and develop assessment portals with contemporary and futuristic tools and processes.
• The most interesting part has been that though there has been no hierarchy and dignity of labour that have ever been given importance. The lead has been taken based on respective competencies and spaces. This has led to a deep respect for the knowledge and vision than being caught in proving each other right or wrong. Therefore the point of view gets the merit rather than who is saying it. We have been pitching in for each other’s weaknesses than blaming each other at work and life situations.
• When holistic perspective and vision is larger than self, individual freedom to think, explore, integrate and change is large. It is not about who is playing the lead role. Life is then a ballet where depending on the context one plays the lead and the other is willing to play the second support fiddle where necessary. Each is observing and lending what they can do most happily than trying to be the other and take over.
• Life is never a simple straight road. It’s replete with peaks and valleys. Managing demands of home, children, elders, finance and organization can easily suck the individual into a mundane existential reality. Awareness of this and giving freedom to each other to explore life in-spite of personal challenges evolves the person into a finer and matured individual. Monotony never hits even after two decades of living with the vision. This sustains the energy and zeal for contributing and giving back to life creating health and wealth.
• While togetherness is important, taking individual ownership with responsibility and accountability for life and organization made both of us individually contributive and strong. We are independently inter-dependent. This has brought a generative leadership to the organization and has sustained the organization and its growth last 24years.
• Walking on the path of vision needs high ability to take risks. Since the purpose of marriage is the marriage to the vision, each of us are willing to push boundaries and live on edge. Whether it is working with shadows or taking up high risk entrepreneurial ventures togetherness has given a sense of fearlessness that has been a major contributive factor. Creation of tools and techniques has been path breaking in the behavioral science field with many patents and copyrights. There have been serious constraints and challenges but that has never deterred us from exploring life. This has led us to a life that is continually learning and evolving.
• The vision larger than self and walking on this path together has brought many others who have connected, converged and supported by joining the team.
• A life driven by vision and purpose has enabled to continually invest in products, processes, spaces which are directly contributing to the future development of the society and its well-being. Some such key initiatives have been in the field of education (www.efil.co.in ); in Ayurveda (www.vaidyagrama.com ); collaborative projects with Karnataka government in infrastructure, health and education sectors.
Impact of vision and life ahead
‘It is important to know what I am capable of,
It is even more important to know what I am using my capabilities for’ (Sampath 2003).
A vision driven life lends to using one’s capabilities resourcefully. Life is an opportunity and a gift to make a difference to oneself and the society. But to make it wonderful and journey on path of excellence is a choice each of us has to make. Social work education can give the required perspective and trigger to create a life beyond self. When it can be matched with life partnership that is complementary there is no end to the possibilities and potential that can be explored and contributions that can be left behind. This has resulted in over six books (www.insightpublishers.com) and five patented behavioural assessment instruments (www.discoverself.com); over five successful entrepreneurial organizations; over 32 research papers presented in International conferences and key note addresses; served over 2500 workshops with offices in 3 countries; over 8 collaborative projects in governance sector (GOK); three portals and a lot more yet to come in future. The path that we walk also becomes a path that beckons others. Today, joining us there is an Arpitha vision community, a great team that believes in the philosophy and methodology. From formulation, creation, and development, now the concepts are moving into dissemination around the world. Our relationship has also left behind two young individuals, a daughter and a son who are carving their own path following their vision that connects them deeply to the society. Every year over 2500 students go through our life education program and work on creating social action projects where they learn to make a difference to others and therefore to themselves. The impact of life vision is beautifully explained by Debbe Kennedy, as
Dreams give us hope.
Hope ignites passion.
Passion leads us to envision success.
Visions of success open our minds to recognize opportunities.
Recognition of opportunities inspires far- reaching possibilities.
Far-reaching possibilities help us enlist support from others.
Support from others keeps us focused and committed.
Focus and commitment foster action.
Action results in progress.
Progress leads to achievement.
Achievement inspires dreams.
Dreams give us hope.
We wish this sharing would provide a path for several aspiring young social entrepreneurs and social workers who seek a deeper connect to life and profession.
PhD, Managing Director, Arpitha Associates Pvt Ltd.
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