“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
How do you view the world? Through a window dark and dim, clouded by fear, anger, distrust, ambivalence… maybe even racism or hatred? Or from a bright perspective, full of hope and enthusiasm, unjaded by the cares and concerns of the world, and the toxic culture we now find ourselves immersed in. I admit, it is most difficult to keep oneself unstained by this world and all of its ill influences and negativity. We are under a constant barrage of alarming, distressful, discouraging and repulsive news and information. Seriously, it feels like one of those movies where some dark force has cast an evil spell which obliterates the sunlight and creates a dark, lifeless horizon.
But be encouraged--it does not need to, nor should it, remain this way. We just need to clean our windows, adjust our attitudes, resume our resolve and forge ahead as purveyors of goodness, hope and light. I challenge you to embrace the words of Dr. King, “I refuse to accept the view ...” In spite of confronting a seemingly insurmountable, daily tidal wave of negativity, we need to not only stand firm in our resistance--refusing to yield--but more importantly, create a movement to bring civility and decency to the forefront; not through negative confrontation and hostility, but by modeling that which is good, acceptable, and is the right thing to do!
Those of us who work in the Human Services field have a responsibility or, better said, an opportunity, to lead others out of darkness and despair. As I’ve said many times in the past, if not us, then who? In order to do this, we need to position and prepare ourselves to effectively deliver. We need to make sure that our worldview “Window” is seeing potential, possibility and positive outcomes. From time to time, we all need to make an “Attitude Adjustment,” in essence, keeping our window clean! Oprah Winfrey puts it in such simple but powerful terms, “When I look into the future, it's so bright it burns my eyes!” These words should instill an inspirational goal for every one of us.
If you paint in your mind a picture of bright, happy, hopeful and positive expectations, you put yourself into a mental framework and condition which will always produce great outcomes. I don’t want to seem “Pollyannaish,” as obviously life is filled with challenges, tragedy, dark moments and the potential for despair and discouragement. However, we must never ruminate on the negative, but instead dwell on what could be, and should be, and will be with time and effort. It is a conscientious choice for each of us to make; refusing to take the negative, destructive view by painting beautiful, hopeful pictures in our minds of a bright future, for ourselves and those whom we serve!
When we have a “Clear Window,” we possess the ability to see solutions, possibilities and a path forward. If we look hard enough, we will find a light to follow. When we possess this type of mindset, it enables our creative and innovative juices to kick in. I have talked and talked a lot about innovation over the years – it is a powerful engine to drive change and to change lives. But, innovation and creativity cannot be unleashed if we are “seeing through a glass dimly.” It absolutely requires a “Clear Window” which gives us the ability to see past any given negative circumstance and envision something better.
If we are really committed to producing positive change and impact, we must make a commitment to Leadership, to “Walk the Talk!” One of the key tenets of Leadership is bringing people to a place they would not go on their own. If someone is mired in negative thought, despair and hopelessness, it will take a Leader with a “Clear Window” to help them achieve a better, more hopeful mindset. Another important element of Leadership, is the ability to establish a vision, and communicate that vision, sell that vision, and see that vision come to fruition. This approach is precisely what we do in the Human Services field. We assist our clients in developing a new vision and give them all of the tools necessary to achieve it! This is Leadership with a “Clear Window” view! Otherwise, it is the blind leading the blind.
Possessing a “Clear Window” is all about taking ownership and personal responsibility – don’t expect others to do it! You will not have a bright, positive worldview if you continually wear gray or brown tinted glasses to see it through. George Bernard Shaw put it this way, “Keep yourself clean and bright; you are the only window through which you will see the world.” True too, remember your Window is a two way view--it’s not only how you see the world, it’s also how the world sees you. A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. Rudeness, anger, selfishness and indifference reveal much about the character of the person on the other side of the window. Plus, if you pull down a shade over your window so others can’t see you, you are in essence, blinding yourself to a world of opportunity!
Embrace the simple truth, we have an Inner Window through which we see the world, and though it gets cloudy in life, it's our job to wipe it clean and see things as they really are and can become! Keeping a “Clear Window” allows the brightness of hope to radiate through our lives.