Blue Sky is about courage of vision. The first goal of this learning is to help you imagine what might be in the broadest possible context, and to use this vision to create, introduce and implement innovative and beneficial change. The second goal is to help you enable and encourage this capacity in others.
Using the perceptiveness of Mirroring, the connectivity of Anchoring, and the creativity of Spontaneity or Fire, the learning called Blue Sky empowers a leader to instill the courage
of vision in a group, to encourage them to think and see beyond the boundaries of what is already established, including received wisdom and previous models, even if these have served the group or organization well in the past.
Like creativity, vision requires the playfulness and agility of Spontaneity. It takes intuition and even a certain daring to fully investigate new possibilities, even in the conceptual stage. The term “hazard a guess” captures the feeling. The hazard comes from not knowing the outcome for certain. This is why encouraging first yourself and then others is so crucial to this process.
It also takes courage from you and your team to be able to imagine that together you can conceive and implement grand plans. Grandeur, such as we see in nature, or in monumental works of art and architecture, or epic intellectual and financial achievements, often seems unobtainable, or at least beyond the range of most of us. The key here lies in the root of the word courage, which comes from the French word coeur, meaning, “heart.” With a brave heart, a heart that is open, connected to others and passionate, the unimaginable can be accomplished.
This is why Mirroring and Anchoring are so important to the courage which vision and transformation require. For instance, it may seem contradictory to your purpose to extend empathy to those who do not want change. Yet, allowing time and space for the expression of recalcitrance, doubt and even grief about the loss of old habits will soon release positive energy for change. Moreover, encouraging expression in a group gives your work multiple perspectives, a diversity that will enrich all your efforts. No single person can provide all the information needed for vision. This is why so often, whether meeting in cafés, universities or laboratories, communities of artists, thinkers and scientists create transformative ideas. The solid ground of relationship will allow you and your group to fly even higher.
In the learning called Blue Sky, Mirroring and Anchoring move into a larger sphere. In order to imagine new possibilities you must be able to see the larger dimension very clearly. Here the role of the leader is especially crucial. Because in a large company many people concentrate on their own task, they often have only a vague idea of how the organization works as a whole, or even how what they produce, fits into the larger picture. Yet, without a big picture, visions can easily be unrealistic. On the other hand, even on the most practical level, a knowledge of how the company works as a whole is the starting place from which to estimate what the immediate results of ideas may be, the effects they might have over time and space, including the benefits or repercussions throughout your company and the community you serve. And the big picture can ultimately inspire vision as well as the desire for change.
First, the leader needs to have the whole picture, taking care to fill in any blanks in his or her knowledge through research. After this the leader can educate the group, guiding them to understand how the company works as a whole, what are its future plans, what role the company plays in the larger community of business, what trends are occurring in the field. The last step in the process of gaining a big picture is to elicit questions, encouraging participants to do research on their own about aspects of the company, product or community.
Finally, as the title Blue Sky implies, envisioning and encouraging vision in others requires a certain spaciousness of mind. In a sense, leaders act as hosts to ideas, concepts and plans. In this capacity, your challenge is to widen the doors of consciousness beyond old boundaries. Think of a large room with a spectacular view. Your task is to make the scope of vision as great as possible. To serve this end, invite surprising ideas, concepts or plans that seem to come from the very margins of your view. Some of the best ideas may seem “off the wall” at first. What would you have thought thirty years ago, for example, if someone had said you might be able to carry a little telephone around with you anywhere in the world?
The solar hindrance to Blue Sky is grandiosity. Powerful people, used to high achievement, are particularly subject to grandiosity. They forget that even they have flaws and must obey the laws of gravity. The comic hero Don Quixote, who believed he could win a battle with windmills, typifies grandiosity. A grandiose idea is one that is not tested or measured against reality. Cultivating a very sensual attention to details is a good antidote to this hindrance. When you see the trees as well as the forest, your vision will enter the realm of the possible again. In the same vein, relating to others with an attitude of humility does a lot to balance grandiosity. Humility simply means you understand that you are just one of the trees in the forest, and that because of that, your vision has natural limitations. You can get past those limitations by listening more carefully to the ideas of others.
Those under the lunar shadow, on the other hand, do not see the forest, and perhaps not even the trees, but become mired in small details, as a piece of bark or a twig, missing all that transpires around them. Mired in this way, they are so attached to specific details they cannot imagine change. The antidote to this hindrance is actually to learn to see the forest. Thinking abstractly is a skill that, like any other, needs practice. Familiarize yourself with the larger ideas behind your company and learn how those ideas have evolved. You might even consider reading a book on organizational theory. The side of yourself you are seeking to develop is the solar capacity for analytical thought. Once you can balance analysis with sensual knowledge, you will find your capacity to envision increasing several fold.