What the Vision Does
by Peter Senge
If your deeper intention is an inseparable part of how you are, it is not capable of attachment.
You can seek to accomplish your intention. You live out your intention. It is like the wind, the life force from which your energy and determination arises, whereas your vision is a particular destination you want to reach.
So, as best I can understand, the heart of the dynamic of being truly committed and nonattached is to anchor in your deeper intention and focus your energies on realizing your vision, while at the same time knowing that the vision is, at best, a reflection of your deeper intention.
It is possible to be truly committed and not attached. Indeed, it is essential to developing our mastery in the creative process. For years we have expressed this basic idea as the principle. “It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.” In other words, rather than obsess about realizing my vision, consider it as a force for change, a way of aligning my actions with nature’s unfolding. When you operate this way, what happens may not be exactly as you imagined it in your vision, but what happens would otherwise not have happened. You could hold a vision of a genuine perfection in some domain and, although you might never realize that vision, you might also achieve things that would have never been achieved otherwise. It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.
In this spirit, pursuing a vision is a way to live in harmony with your deeper ineffable intention. In this sense, vision is a tool for orienting our energies and effort around who we really are. But when we obsess about whether or not our vision is being achieved, we confused the animating force behind our being with an idea created by our mind.
–Peter Senge, from a dialogue with Charles Holmes