Accepting the Tension Between Vision and Reality

by  Chery Gegelman  |  Self Leadership

Earlier this week I was visiting with another Lead Change Contributing Author and Entrepreneur, Shawn Murphy (@shawmu & LeadChange profile).  Our conversation quickly reminded each of us that we are not alone as we experience some natural tension between our vision and our reality:

  • How do you balance faith and ownership?  When do you seek answers and wait?  And when do you need to take action and step forward?
  • How do you stay focused on your mission & serving others when our egos are so easily triggered and can take us off course in a flash?
  • How do you curiously and courageously explore new opportunities when it feels so much safer to stay in our comfort zones?

Our brief conversation reminded me of something Jesse Lyn Stoner and Ken Blanchard shared in their book Full Steam Ahead, “At times, the tension of holding an honest view of both my present and my vision is frightening.   It feels like jumping off a cliff with no assurance of a safe landing.”  The authors go on to emphasize how important it is to learn to accept the natural tension we will experience between our vision and our current reality and recommend that we intentionally move towards the things we fear.

So how do you accept that natural tension and move into the fear?

Focus on all of the things that happen when people move towards their vision instead of letting their past and present realities limit their future contributions:

  • Columbus…   New worlds are discovered.
  • Harriet Tubman…  An uneducated former slave leads hundreds to freedom.
  • The Wright Brothers…   People fly.
  • Nelson Mandela…  A prisoner becomes a President.
  • Nick Vujicic…  A child born with no arms and no legs gives hope to millions.
Focus on the people that will benefit when your vision becomes reality:
  • Recommit to your vision several times a day if that is what it takes to stay focused.
  • Be willing to fail in public, knowing that many of the greatest leaders in history used failure as a tool to increase their knowledge.
  • Be willing to apologize and to change your behavior when you blow it.
  • Be willing to ask for advice and encouragement when you need it.
  • Pray.

And remember:

  •  “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Nelson Mandela
  • “Faith is the assurance of what you hope for, and the conviction of what you cannot see.” Hebrews

What tension are you feeling today that will make a difference tomorrow? 

Related posts:

When Leadership Means Letting Go by Lisa Petrilli

The Heart of a Leader

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By chery-gegelman
Chery Gegelman was once a frustrated visionary that learned to lead extensive system-wide changes from the middle. Today she is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two books. Her passion is bringing help and understanding to people and organizations that are leading through change to growth.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jon M  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply

Your action points are so very accurate. It is easy to get discouraged and then forget to recommit, admit errors, or seek time for reflection and guidance. These are essential things to do to keep moving the mission forward.

Your insights are inspiring and challenging, a wonderful combination. Posts like this is why I believe the Lead Change Group is one of the best!



Chery Gegelman  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply


Thank you for your feedback! It is such an honor to be a part of Lead Change!

I checked out your blog and discovered that we have both received lessons in leadership from toothpaste tubes! Interesting how we see the same object, and yet observe different things.

Jon M  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply


What a coincidence! I guess we think within a similar “tube” of sorts! I like your perspective as well on toothpaste leadership. Good people insights, without a doubt!



Shawn  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply

I have no doubts that your message today will remind others that we are stronger when we lean on others to help us make things happen.

Great message and examples.

Chery Gegelman  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply

Shawn, Thanks for being one of the examples in the message!

The timing of our call that week was so perfect:

Earlier in the week I read Lisa Petrilli’s Blog and had been reminded how important it is for us to ask for help.

Within in days you and I were sharing similar thoughts about our journeys through unfamiliar territory and finding encouragement simply from knowing that someone else was “there” too.



Chery Gegelman  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply

I just received this link from Jesse Lyn Stoner, the author I quoted in this blog.

This is a link to a blog she wrote about the creative tension titled: “The shortest distance between what is and what could be.”

Thanks Jesse!

Jesse Stoner  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply

Chery, I really appreciate your post. I love your examples of people who did not allow themselves to be limited by their present reality and your advice on how to deal with the “creative tension” is very helpful.

Chery Gegelman  |  02 Aug 2011  |  Reply

Thank you so much Jesse! You’re examples have been teaching me for years!

Ryan Vet - Leadership  |  12 Aug 2011  |  Reply

Chery- Thanks for sharing this post. This tension you talk about is definitely something that I struggle with. However those people you mentioned, Columbus, Mandela, and so on was extremely compelling. They are stories we all know well, but I have never looked at them in this light. Thank you!

Chery Gegelman  |  02 Sep 2011  |  Reply

Ryan – I apologize for the long delay in responding to you.

It is interesting to me that as humans we all struggle with this. Yet so often we struggle in isolation instead of realizing that this tension is a normal part of living and celebrating that it is growth-causing.

Also so interesting how we stand back and admire someone who has achieved something that took years of dedication, without realizing that it was a journey, not an event.

Amazing how vision can give us hope for the length of the journey…

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