When I lived in China, I had an expat friend who made this pithy note: “May you always be able to look a little further beyond the horizon than your neighbors. But, may it not be so far beyond that you can’t point it out to them.”
I thought that this was some sort of sage, ancient chinese secret that he had picked up in his more in depth Chinese interactions. I was mistaken.
It is a (paraphrased) line from Samuel Butler’s book The Way of All Flesh. Sounds racy, I know. But, it’s a book in which Butler explores the hypocrisy of Victorian England.
Returning to the quote – It’s great to be able to see the future right? That’s kind of like having a chance to take a racing table back in time like Biff in the second Back to the Future.
This is theme that’s been explored in the negative too though. The classic that you might be enticed to watch this time of year by the family elders is It’s a Wonderful Life.
The what if in that case contends with how poor the world would have turned out, but for all the good that came about due to George Bailey’s life.
As it turns out, the idea of having a vision and perceiving yourself as having attained that vision is one of the greatest “tricks” that one can play on their subconscious.
Look at any book about goal achievement and it will insist that you gain clarity as to your goals. The result then becomes not so much that you strive to attain them, but that you work along and are pulled to them.
So what’s this bit about the second part though? What the heck is the meaning of the phrase: “may [your “look”] not be so far beyond [the horizon] that you can’t point it out to [your neighbors]?”
Essentially, this speaks to the idea that it’s really tough when you are not able to show what it is that you see. Why? Because people will think your crazy!
Well, perhaps the best example of this is Marconi who came up with the notion of radio waves and notwithstanding the fact that his family sought to have him committed, he reduced his idea to form.
Imagine the degree of self-confidence he had to generate in order to overcome all the doubters? Can you imagine anyone spouting off about being able to broadcast across hundreds of miles in the days before anyone else could even conceive this idea. Yet, here we are now with the ubiquitous use of smart phones.
Also, think about the people in your life. There are some who are game to at least entertain an idea. There are others for whom if you aren’t immediately able to demonstrate “how” … it’s a waste.
A waste of time, a waste of money, and a waste of energy. These are the people that generally seek to keep their nose to the grindstone.
The ideal though is to have a worthwhile match of apparent unrealistic optimism which you attach to a goal and then work like hell to attain.
This was what Edison did to finally come to the point of inventing the light bulb.
One other thing that helps is that you have a previous demonstration of leadership. People take proven leaders much more seriously even when the goal is audacious.
On September 12, 1962 the US President – JFK – held forth the vision of sending man to the moon and returning him safely … before the end of the decade.
We are less than a year from the 50th anniversary of the realization of that vision.
Here, I dismiss the idea that Stanley Kubrick represented this as a reality to the world.
But even if he had, is it possible that the clarity of the representation of that vision has drawn others since into the wonderful void of outer space in an effort to expand understanding and growth?
Returning to the overall point, what could you possibly have to fear for staking a claim to an outlandish goal and working towards it as we approach 2019 and through that year and beyond?
The answer: Barring death, absolutely nothing! The apt comment remains: “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you will still land amongst the stars.”
Identify the visionary aim and it becomes easier done than said. This is to say, all that then becomes necessary is the work. So get after it. Cheers!
Photo Credit: https://moon.nasa.gov/resources/187/apollo-11-mission-image-view-of-moon-limb-with-earth-on-the-horizon/