I wrote this blog as part of an Advent Series for Gary Cookson at EpicHR. It’s a personal reflection about having faith in my future hopes and vision, but it’s also relevant to organisations and the faith leaders create in the future they are aspiring to. As well as the faith they invest in believing their teams can and will deliver and of course the faith they have in themselves to motivate, inspire and deliver.
When I was a child, I didn’t believe in Father Christmas. My mum thought that telling my sister and I he was real was lying. She had her reasons for feeling this way, based in the best of intentions.
I hadn’t really thought about this until I was talking with my therapist. We were exploring the idea that I have faith that the best outcome will happen for the people and teams I coach, my kids, family and friends. I believe they have the resources they need, that the journey to an outcome will teach them valuable insights and build resilience. Even if they fail to reach the hoped for ending, they are and will be OK.
I realised I found it harder to have this kind of faith in myself in the context of my relationship with others. Making promises I wasn’t sure I could deliver upon, or commitments I may not be able to keep felt like lying. Because circumstances out of my control could change and as these circumstances were unknown, how could I make a commitment without knowing the whole truth? And I had been taught to believe only in reality, the known, as to do otherwise would be lying.
Maybe having faith is about committing to a future vision and trusting that it will happen, even when you don’t know how you’re going to get there?
The Oxford dictionary definition of faith is: “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”
A vision is a destination, but the path is unknown. Goals and outcomes help to set the path for achievement of the vision and are more specific, measurable and tangible. The danger is, we’re always reaching for the destination, instead of celebrating the achievement of goals along the way. I know I do this – I generate a sense of urgency for myself, which creates its’ own pressure.
Because when I am myself invested in the end – the outcome, I find it harder to trust and surrender to what will happen, I want to control it.
This need to control leads to a fear of having faith – because what if I dream too big, hope for something that isn’t delivered and I become disappointed, having to face failure?
Better to be realistic and have control of the end, rather than place my faith in the present.
In an outcome obsessed world, we carefully map and plan our current steps to manipulate the future. But doesn’t this sometimes remove the enjoyment?
Ten years ago, when I moved to Somerset, I decided to go back to art college and fulfil a teenage ambition. I learned about mark making, creating patterns, experimenting with colour – all with the purpose of learning, improving, building skill and experience. Not about producing a product to ‘hang on the wall’.
Later I attended an art therapy course. Art as an expression of innermost feelings and thoughts, without images, or words, just marks, colours, shapes. Expressing the inexpressible.
And most recently I have completed a Foundation in Transactional Analysis and experienced therapy, as opposed to outcome-based coaching, which has been my previous experience. At one point I said to my therapist “I don’t really understand what we’re doing here, where are we going, what is the purpose?” She explained that she was getting to know me, and that what we needed to address would unfold. It was about having faith, that the purpose – the end would evolve. And it is. A process of unfurling and discovery. The absolute security of being listened to, understood and supported. Which in turn enables me to reach for deeper honesty and reflection, because an outcome, an end isn’t expected. This means conclusions happen naturally.
This process is enabling me to build faith in myself. To understand my motivations and patterns. Offering me the opportunity to make different choices – because I want to, not because I’m urgently striving for a specific outcome.
And yes, I still have doubts. I believe doubt is a partner of faith. We hold onto it, despite doubt.
And so, I realise, having faith in the person I can be in the future isn’t lying. It’s having doubts about the possible outcomes and endings and choosing to go in that direction anyway.
It’s not about having control.
It’s about risking failure and knowing that is enough.
It’s about having faith that I am enough.
And Father Christmas? He’s a symbol integral to the winter season. Christmas celebrations represent our faith that the light will return after the dark, at the Winter Solstice. A celebration of abundance, rebirth and renewal – the opportunity to start again, as Winter begins to end, and we move toward Spring.
And yes – my kids, who are now 16 and above all believed in Father Christmas!
Lyn helps leaders to engage their teams with a compelling vision and to articulate the values and behaviours important to them in delivering it. This means that strategy and culture are aligned, people feel purposeful and are more accountable.
If you’re feeling your team are ‘just not getting it’, or the organisation is evolving or growing and vision and values needs to be completely clear and overt, then contact Lyn to explore how she can facilitate engagement and change firstname.lastname@example.org or 07950 914328.