I arrived at Caribou Coffee ready for our monthly advisory board meeting – preparing for a conference to be held in 2009. As we sat down and settled in with our coffee or tea, one of the ladies started talking about a huge change that had taken place since Obama was elected the prior Tuesday. She enthusiastically shared how for the first time in her life, she felt there was an “us” that she was a part of in the U.S. She felt included and a part of the country in a way she never had before. She also mentioned that there was now no excuse for holding back or not going for her dreams. This was also something she had heard from others in the days after the election.

After this enthusiastic reveal, the rest of us went around the table to check in with what was going on with each of us before we got down to business. I was next at the table and shared how I had been challenged to say “yes” to change on a personal level in the past week. Another woman mentioned that she had had a breakthrough and that her fear was gone. Another said that she was finally able to successfully follow a diet without being tempted and giving in. Another said that for the first time she could say she was proud to be an American.

Each of the other women acknowledged that the election of Obama had had a major impact on their life in some way. I sat there stunned. Never had I heard such a report after any other election in my lifetime! It felt like testimony time at a revival meeting!

revival [ri-vahy-vuh l] -noun
1. restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.

Here was an example of a change in leadership of a system (United States) having an impact on the system.

How has this change in leadership affected you? What impact do you see this change having in your life and the people you know?

Vision is SO important to individuals as well as teams and organizations! A beautiful nugget that so aptly describes our relationship with vision was described in Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline” (pp. 135-142):

The gap that is between our current reality and our vision is called “creative tension.” This gap is a source of creative energy and, if you can imagine it, is like a huge rubberband that is stretched between the two points. The bigger the vision, the more the rubberband is stretched and the greater the creative tension.

Creative tensions seeks resolution or release in two ways: 1. our current reality is pulled towards the vision and brings us closer to fulfillment, and 2. we bring our vision closer to our current reality by making it more “realistic.”

It is important to not confuse emotional tension with creative tension. If I try to relieve the emotional tension by getting rid of the creative tension, I lower the vision.

According to Senge, goals erode in organizations many times because of low tolerance for emotional tension. “Truly creative people use the gap between vision and current reality to generate energy for change.”

Personally, I’m really challenged with this concept. I really want to see and experience the reality of creative tension generating energy for change.

Do you have a comment, question, or example of where you have seen this concept at work? Please share.