Kate had a vision. My 12-year-old niece loved her dog and chocolate-crested gecko, but a cat was what she wanted most of all.
“No,” her parents said. “We already have animals.”
“But we don’t have a cat,” she replied.
“Cats scratch furniture. And they need their litter boxes scooped.”
“I can scoop the litter box.”
“And take the dog for walks? And feed your gecko?”
“I can do it,” Kate said confidently.
“No. We’re not getting a cat.”
For some kids, that would be the end of the conversation. But not Kate. For her, no was just the starting point.
Lesson 1: Hear the no, but refuse to accept it as the final answer.
So, Kate got strategic. She looked up the closest humane society and put the address in her phone. The next time they were out running errands nearby, Kate asked to stop at the shelter.
“We’re not getting a cat, Kate.”
“I know. But we can stop and just look at them.”
So they did. And this started happening regularly. Because Kate had a vision.
Lesson 2: Make a plan.
Knowing her mother didn’t want a cat to scratch the furniture, Kate started searching for declawed cats online. On their occasional visits, she’d point out the ones she’d researched.
“This one is declawed, Mom.”
My sister-in-love stayed silent. Kate didn’t push. She just tried new strategies. Because that’s what you do when you have a vision.
Lesson 3: Collaborate. Find common ground. Offer solutions that allow those in power to say yes.
Enlisting her sister’s help, Kate and Jessica looked online for their favorite adoptable cats. Together, they printed out pages from the website with the cats’ names and descriptions.
Lesson 4: Find allies who share your vision and work together. A group effort has synergy.
Kate would select a page and, at a convenient time, show it to her parents.
“Look at this one, Mom. Isn’t it cute?”
“Yes, it is cute.”
She’d explain why it was special. What its habits were. That it was good around dogs.
“We’ve already talked about this.”
“I know, I’m just showing you.”
Kate and Jessica began leaving photos of cute cats in surprising places: the back of the bathroom mirror. In the kitchen cupboard. Under the remote control. All in places their parents would look, not suspecting a whiskery, sparkly-eyed kitten to stare back.
It made an impression. Privately, my brother admitted he found this endearing, hilarious, and surprisingly persuasive. Kate was determined. It’s hard to argue long-term with someone committed to a vision.
Lesson 5: Surprise those in power with your commitment. When possible, use creativity and even humor to get your message across.
Kate persisted. After another strategic visit to the humane society, now Pixie is a part of the family.
I’m inspired by my niece’s accomplishment. Not just because of the outcome, but because of her strategy. I sincerely hope she runs for office someday.
The value and power of vision
Kate’s purr-suasive campaign shows how a clear vision can help us work toward a more perfect union.
A vision is fuel for the long game. When we focus only on what’s wrong, it leads to overwhelm, paralysis, and inaction. Focusing equally on what you seek—your vision—prevents burnout and increases motivation.
Consider for a moment
What is the end goal of your activism?
What are you working toward?
What outcomes do you seek?
It’s not enough to focus on ejecting one elected official. Or getting revenge on a racist leader. Go beyond just what you don’t want and focus on what you want more of.
My own vision is of a healthy planet with community that thrives in equality, justice, truth, opportunity, and collaboration. Where we listen well and work to lift each other up.
My vision has room for dissent, but no tolerance for intolerance. It’s not utopia; it’s a vision that requires work. And, for me, it’s a vision worth working for.
What’s your vision?
Take a moment to write a description—or even create a visual collage—of the outcome you’re striving for. You can share in the comment section too.
Then, like Kate, put it somewhere to remind you. Maybe on the bathroom mirror. Or your cellphone wallpaper. Also consider putting your vision where others can see it.
A vision is how you energize yourself and others into mid-terms, to 2020, and beyond. That’s the power of vision.
Once you have a vision, recall the five lessons from Kate’s kitty campaign
1: Refuse to accept no as the final answer. Your vision is the final answer.
2: Make a plan. Start taking steps immediately—no matter how small.
3: Collaborate. Find common ground. Offer solutions that allow those in power to say yes.
4: Find allies who share your vision and work together. A group effort has synergy.
5: Surprise those in power with your commitment. When possible, use creativity and even humor to get your message across.
This is what democracy looks like.
Taking action to create your vision is the most important thing you can do with your time on earth.
So think big, and take small actions toward it every day. You just never know whose mind you’ll change.
I love this!!! I have been feeling a little overwhelmed and this is a great way to express it and helps me stay encouraged!
I don’t do twitter so have not been able to tell you how much I LOVE your weekly e-mail list of actions! I have never in my past gotten involved other than to vote but now I send Thank You postcards and have been trying to make at least one phone call from the weekly list!
Thank you for your guidance and encouragement! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!
This is wonderful, thank you Jennifer.
You’re an incredible person, Jen. Thank you for everything you are doing.
I love this and it is very powerful – a vision I am working with is called The New Bottom Line from the Spiritual Progressive Network in Berkeley, CA. They have a great website – you might want to check it out. We will use your The Power of Vision in Daunting Times as we move forward with this work – thank you so very much!!
I love your blogs. They all resonate with my own vision. I especially love your positive messages. Keep them coming :).
This came in the nick of time for me and I truely appreciate this story. Everyday it gets harder and harder to get to answers and then deflection occurs. You wonder if what you do matters and then you read this story, and for now, things matter!
Thank you Jen,
This is a great story and a wonderful reminder that going to positive route is how to win people over to yes. Thank you!
This is so brilliant and so cleverly illustrated. I celebrate the commitment and creativity of your darling niece and wish her and Kitty a long love affair! Thank you for inspiring me again! <3
“Surprise those in power with your commitment”. One thing Jen didn’t mention is that both Kate and Jessica pretended to do the boring, everyday things needed to take care of what they wanted. They decided where the litter box would be and would go to that place twice a day. They kept a written log on a clipboard of the time and date that they were there. It showed a chain of responsibility and commitment. When you show people that you are trustworthy, it’s a lot easier to say “yes”.
This is awesome! I didn’t know they did that! I’ll add this to the blog!
I love that you commented, bro! And I love that they won you over! <3
Jennifer, where do you gather your wisdom? Who do you gather your wisdom from?
How do you find people that you look up to on a regular basis?
Thank you for inspiring me to look again for what I want, my clear vision.
This is a good question. Thanks for asking, Radha. For visioning, I look to people like Simon Synek, Kristine King, and Danielle LaPorte. For spirit wisdom, I read Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle Melton, Mark Silver. For mystical/soul work, I immerse myself in the dark goddess mythology. From those sources, what comes out is uniquely mine, but also universal. My willingness to unplug from media and connect with the Divine is the greatest source of wisdom. When we assent to being a voice for Love, we can heal without effort.
Saw this after looking at this week’s checklist. Kate’s story is really inspiring, thank you Jen! And I hope she runs for office someday, too!
I know this comment will be a bit late given the date of your post. It is true that each day is daunting-especially today with the latest news about pulling out of the Paris Agreement. I wallow and worry for a minute and then remember this is a long game. I keep moving, pushing forward, signing petitions, making calls. While things do look bleak, there are silver linings. You just have to look for them harder. Just think of the mighty right wingers who have fallen recently. The people who stood up to the man in Portland and lost their lives doing so. There’s more I could list here. The biggest is the fact that we are witnessing citizens engaging in the process with no signs of letting up. We cannot give up hope that in the long run, this mighty ship will right itself.
Thank you for all of your wonderful and inspiring posts!
I am so impressed with your incite, your eloquence, and your contagious enthusiasm. Although I am 85, I wish I lived somewhere near you so we could be friends. But, alas, I live in Southern Florida. Just wanted to let you know that someone on the other side of the country feels a kinship…and sincere admiration. Thanks for all you do. Please keep doing it. And good luck with your book! (Hi to Mary!)
Hi, Mrs. Brockman! Thank you so much for the sweet note. My favorite thing about technology is that it allows kindred spirits to meet from all over. Even if we never meet in person, South Florida has lots of amazing people who think very much the way we do. Keep being your awesome self. — Jen