Great firsts in history start with an idea and belief in the unseen. Sometimes they are witnessed. Sometimes they go unnoticed. Always they cross a threshold, opening the way for more innovation to follow. Every time I get ready to take another leap of faith in something bigger than myself, I am reminded of this truth and also a poem I wrote now over 25 years ago... as I am again ready to put my faith in the unseen, I decided sharing the story with you would be the place to start. It is my greatest hope that it will inspire some of you to dream BIG...
Our Dreams in ACTION: A personal Story
On the first Monday after I left IBM, I sat at my dining room table tracing how “dreams had come true” for me as a leader during the previous twenty years at IBM. My aim was to bolster up my courage to make the right decisions in order to blaze a new trail. The tracing resulted in my writing a simple poem. Flowing from my memory of many leaps of faith, the reflection filled me with confidence enough to say, “Yes!” to a new calling. The rest is history.
Since then, the poem has been used by many trailblazers over the years and has since been translated into sixteen languages, which validates that its message is universal. Futurist Joel Barker has used it for many years to close his presentations about vision and encouraged me to rename it “Our Dreams in Action.”
A HIDDEN MESSAGE IN THE POEM
For many years, when I displayed the poem, I shared it, justifying it on the left. Interestingly, I discovered when I wrote Putting Our Differences to Work, I decided to include the poem. This time, I centered on the page. The lines created an equidistant cross. According to well-loved Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist, in her beautiful book Signs of Life, the equidistant cross shape—the plus sign—universally symbolizes the process of relationship, integration, and balanced connection. How perfect!
In the years that have followed, the cross has taken on a new significance in my life and I continue to learn new insights about how our belief and passions drive our most important contributions. St. John of the Cross offered this reflection: "Many blessings flow when the four natural passions (joy, hope, fear, sorrow) are in harmony."
For those hearing the call to innovate, lead, and reach for new levels of peak performance and contribution, the poem also demonstrates once again that putting our differences to work is a powerful practice familiar to us all. May it inspire a “Yes!” in you as you move into action on your own intended path.
(Below: graphic of the poem, page 55, Putting Our Differences to Work by Debbe Kennedy).
founder, President and CEO Global Dialogue Center
and Leadership Solutions Companies
founding leadership team, TABLE of PLENTY Half Moon Bay
author, Putting Our Differences to Work (Berrett-Koehler 2008)
**2010 Axiom Business Book Award Winner**
Twitter @debbekennedy @onlinedialogues