Bounded. Determined.

Thank you to so many people who sent in references, reactions, and responses to the hypothesis we are testing this fall. I have had a great time digging through the various sources presented me, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

As we look together this fall at the phases, principles, and practices common in the creation process, the first one that slaps me in the face over and over again is that capacity is not unlimited. I battle this reality constantly and always lose. Some time I will show you the many scars I have to show it. Here are stories of two battles I lost. Thankfully, the wars are still on.

When I was working at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health to improve sexual health education in the schools throughout Illinois, I had a great relationship with a major funder who had access to a large pot of money. She was willing to invest that money in my theory of what it would take to make deep, lasting change throughout Illinois. So, I created a major initiative that tackled school board policy and infrastructure, federal and state funding regulations, and teacher preparedness. It was ambitious to say the least. I still stand solidly behind this plan, and we proved much of it to be right on target. What we didn’t account for was all the capacity it would take the organization to support and sustain that kind of broad and deep social change initiative. Even with the investment of financial resources, we were only able to accomplish part of what we set out to do, because our infrastructure and personnel were too limited for such an ambitious endeavor. What I thought we could accomplish in two years is still being played out five years later. Join me for their anniversary celebration November 16 to meet the people who are still fighting the good fight.

Then came Jonny Stax Presents, Inc. As I was working on the business plan, I kept running up against a brick wall, trying to make the numbers work. We were starting with so little. I couldn’t figure out how to accomplish our goals with what we had. So, I decided to shift the question from “What can we do with what we have?” to “What will it take to do what we want to do?” So, I started adding more and more activities, services, and productions until the numbers added up. Oops. It takes people to pull all that off. And, though I was successful at raising a good chunk of start-up capital, I didn’t raise everything I had identified that I needed. Did I make adjustments based upon the capacity we had? Does a dreamer ever back down from fulfilling his dreams? Needless to say, this put us on a rough starting path. One that I would not trade for the world.

In looking back, it was a great exercise to ask what it would take to do what we wanted. However, it wasn’t the final exercise. Next, I needed to figure what of all of that we had envisioned was feasible. Building a plan off of determination and dreams is insufficient for the real world. It sets the dreamer up for painful awakenings.

Determination is a beautiful thing. Figuring out how to create appropriate boundaries is a difficult thing. As I manifest my own creations and mentor others in the creation process, I know now how important it is to strike a balance between determination and boundaries. Too often, we have to go to one source to unleash our creativity and another source to establish boundaries for our path. It’s so beautiful to hold both in the same space.

Any stories, tools, or spaces you can turn me on to that illuminate this balance?