Fortunately, Superhuman Powers Are Not Required
It's not a superhuman power. We can turn what we visualize into reality. Let's use that gift to create ten vital services for surviving and thriving.
“Please close your eyes.”
I am speaking to fifteen 100% Valencia County initiative members at a retreat center in Los Lunas. The workshop participants have asked me to participate in order to support their emergence from lockdown and zoom fatigue in order to finally re-engage fully in the countywide initiative face to face.
I continue with my visualization activity, “Imagine your favorite drink. See it in your mind’s eye. Is it cool and frosty or warm and comforting?”
“Now imagine you want to procure that drink. Can you see going to a drive thru, a store or restaurant to get it? Will you call someone to pick it up for you? Can you order it online?”
“Now imagine you have secured your favorite drink and it’s in your hands. Take a sip.”
“Open your eyes.”
I’m asking folks about the difficulty of the visualization process and all report it was very easy.
“OK. If you’re ready for part two of the activity, close your eyes one more time.”
“Imagine your county in the future when all ten vital services for surviving and thriving are available to all families.”
“This could come in many images. Perhaps you see a map of the county with little dots representing ten services. Can you see the dots doubling? Or you imagine a health clinic that has increased its staff and serves residents. Maybe you can see a mom with two preschoolers in a car smiling as she drives to the food pantry, knowing it will be open, well-stocked and helpful.”
Debriefing the activity, I am asking if it was harder to visualize ten robust services than one’s favorite drink. Most of the participants are nodding, indicating that seeing that future was not easy. One of the community leaders says, “I have worked for years with the health council to grow our services and implement the 100% Valencia initiative but I struggled at first to see a future where all our services are accessible.”
Like most humans, we visualize all the time. We see something we want or need to do in our mind and our incredible brain calculates how to make it happen. It’s automatic, yet it’s quite a complex process involving our brain, our eyes, our hands, and our capacity to speak, write, listen, drive, and organize. Getting a drink or creating a beach vacation or writing a report all require we see what needs to be done, then doing it.
Our power to visualize is profound. And, it’s the gift we have that moves society forward toward a caring society. It’s one thing to care about people, and another to take action that helps them. Our altruistic actions can be one to one, helping a neighbor carry her groceries or driving a grandparent to a doctor’s appointment. We can also help our entire family or household in many ways. Our sphere of helpfulness can enlarge if we can visualize what to do. This brings us to acts of kindness, guided by the concepts of health equity and social justice, that impact your entire community, city, and a county.
In the work of our county-based 100% New Mexico initiative we are a collective of visualizers. The first part of our job is to imagine a future, to see in your mind’s eyes, how your local world might look if there were health clinics for every county resident. Just like imagining your tasty latte in your hand, you can use the same brain power to actually see clinics appearing. Or maybe instead of new clinics, you can “see” current clinics doubled in size. Maybe you add to that a larger healthcare provider workforce, all happy and rested.
Visualizing a system of care
The point of pondering our power to imagine is that it’s always been the most important part of our work with the 100% New Mexico initiative. We had to be able to imagine what a county looks like when all the services for surviving and thriving exist. Once we had that vision and shared in our book what such a future could do for children and families, we had the spark of an idea. From there, it was all about meeting with other visionary local stakeholders who could share the vision.
One reason we start our initiative with a book club, reading 100% Community, is that it supports a collective vision with neighbors. Not only did the vision focus on health care and how to make it accessible for all, but the vision also included a way to actually make it happen. As book club members read the chapter on medical and dental care at 100%, they could learn about 20 to 25 activities that could turn a vision into reality.
The harder part is going from collective vision to actually creating a new future, where what you see can actually become reality. Yes, this is more complicated than seeing the latte, but it’s the same process.
We see everyone thriving
So far, what is happening among 14 counties in New Mexico could be described as magic. There are fourteen groups of local folks that meet, talk, plan, and take on many tasks to build a new future. In this future, the coalition members are visualizing a county where every working mom can easily access medical care, mental health care, food security programs, affordable housing, and transportation.
The superpower of each initiative goes further than visualizing the five services for surviving, and includes five services for thriving: parent supports, early childhood learning programs, fully-resourced community schools, youth mentor programs, and job training.
What we see every day is the power of the mind to generate thoughts that become things. A vision for a youth center in San Miguel County becomes a reality. A vision for a 100% Family Center: One Stop Hub for 10 Services goes from being an idea in the minds of the 100% Parent Support Action Team in Doña Ana County to becoming a proposal that turns into a NM Senate Bill asking for three years of funding. A collective vision of the Valencia County 100% team envisions a brand new online directory to services and then creates the funds and identifies the IT specialist to create it and launch it. Pure magic!
Imagine the power of all these people, focusing their caring on action steps. Turning service barriers into service access is not done overnight or even within a year or two. With the vision, a well-resourced county slowly evolves. Vision. We start there each day. Never doubt the power of a collective vision, as it is the engine that is transforming New Mexico into a land of compassion, caring, and empowerment for 100%. Can you see it?