The Psychology of Painting Part 3 – The Boss: Owning a Vision

By Mario Guertin – President, PDCA Craftsmanship Forum
President, Painting in Partnership, Inc.

This 3-part series has challenged the reader to “go deeper” when looking at the work of painting: deeper in how we view the impact of our work on clients’ lives and deeper in how we see the contribution we can make to our own employees through our businesses. We will now turn to the BOSS! Guess what? I will also challenge you to go deeper in how you view your ultimate source of power as a business owner. This article will introduce you to the concept of Vision and the awesome impact it can have on every aspect of your business, as well as your personal life.

A Little Bit of Background

For more than 20 years, I have been fascinated (I might even say obsessed) with the concept of Vision. My work in the areas of Craftsmanship and Relationship Development are the only other subjects that have captivated me remotely close to that. Before I became a Painting Contractor, I owned a consulting and teaching company for about 6 years where I taught classes and consulted with scores of business owners in the area of Vision. For the last 17 years, as a Painting Contractor, I have been on a journey that has led me to “Own a Vision” in my professional endeavor: I took my own teachings and applied them to my painting business. In this article, I will share aspects of that personal journey, as well as the knowledge I have accumulated in the area of Owning a Vision and the impact it can have on every aspect on your life.

People are Spiritual Beings

In our society, we have come to associate Spirituality with certain practices and rituals that people perform in places of worship. Spirituality is often viewed with a measure of distrust and cynicism. Especially in the business community, the concepts of Spirituality and God are almost “Taboo” subjects. Somehow, it is not cool to bring up these subjects in the context of Management and Business Development. In this article, I will break from that pattern.

To me, being Spiritual means:

  • To accept that there is more to life than the pursuit of one’s own goals, ambitions and desires.
  • To know that we, as individuals, belong to something much bigger than ourselves.
  • That we are concerned, touched and affected by the needs of others around us.
  • To recognize that, to “make a difference” in the state of affairs surrounding us, we do not need to be an extraordinary Prophet like Moses and part the Red Sea; we just need to “Surrender to the Mission”.
  • To understand that “Surrendering to the Mission” gives us access to power and resources we do not possess: they come from God, as part of HIS Grand Vision to improve Life through the efforts of members of his Creation. To “Own a Vision” means to “Claim YOUR Sliver of God’s Grand Vision for Humanity!
  • To believe that one’s true power and fulfillment comes from that “connection” we establish with God by Claiming HIS Vision for our lives!

It is my personal belief that, within the heart of everyone, lies the desire to have a Higher Purpose, to have one’s work be “Significant” and “Meaningful”. I further believe that it is people’s Birth Right for their work to be that kind of vehicle. Now, how many companies do you know where that possibility is actually made real to the employees in their work? My purpose in writing this article is to make real to you the possibility of Owning YOUR Vision, so that its awesome benefits can be made available to anyone your business touches.

Ancient Story of Owning a Vision – Rebuilding the Walls of Jerusalem

In my opinion, the best book ever written on the subject of Vision is by Andy Stanley. It is entitled “Visioneering”. The book was a birthday present from my wife last year; what a gift it was! It is also available as a tape series. The book tells the story of an ordinary man; his name is Nehimiah, whose life is documented in the Bible. He was a Cup Bearer to the King of Persia whose empire included the State of Israel at the time. A Cup Bearer’s job required the highest level of trust and integrity since he was the man who tested the king’s food and beverages before they were to be consumed by him, to avoid the possibility of poisoning.

Nehimiah was a Jew, serving a Persian King, who dominated the State of Israel. Wow, this is quite a script! Wait, there is more. Nehimiah’s heart was also burdened by the condition of his own people at the time. After being run over by Persia, a couple of hundred years earlier and having the Walls surrounding Jerusalem demolished, the State of Israel was left in a totally defenseless position. To add to the problem, Jews were being mocked and ridiculed by all their neighbors. Jews felt indeed defeated and surely not in touch with their mission as the “Chosen People”, who were to some day be host to the Son of God”! This state of affair was a great burden on Nehimiah’s heart; it was a burden that would not go away!

At some point, it all began to gel for Nehimiah: the WALL MUST BE REBUILT! It became clear to him that this was God’s Vision for his life; he just had to get on with the Mission!. God had entrusted Nehimiah with a great job: rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls and restoring Israel’s self-respect and spirit as the Chosen People. He had the essential qualification for the job: a man of the highest integrity and trustworthiness! I urge you to read the book or listen to the tapes for the details on the story.

The bottom line is this: Nehimiah convinced the King to help him accomplish his mission by naming him Governor of Israel, giving money, access to the Crown’s forests and a Staff. That alone would not have gotten the job done; it was just the first step! He then used his talents and abilities, as well as the “inspiration” from his “Vision” to draw to himself people, ideas, resources to ensure the success of his mission. Despite the opposition and tactics of his enemies, the Wall was rebuilt: Mission accomplished! The most wonderful part of the story was that when the wall was finished, people knew that” Only God” could have made this happen. People were therefore empowered to re-own their Mission as the “Chosen People”! This story is especially meaningful to me because it ties in with my own journey and the Vision I came to embrace as a participant in the Painting Industry!

Building the Walls of Painting – A New Vision

I picked Nehimiah’s story because I feel a kinship with him, even though my mission is of a different nature.. First of all, like him, I am an ordinary man with many faults; ask my employees! I also have had a burden on my heart:

Painting is a field that touches life in a very special way, because it deals with people’s environments, lives, dreams and emotions. Yet Painting is a field that does not get much respect in our society; “even a primate can do it”! Painting is a field of endeavor with “No Walls”! Because there are no Standards for what the Finished Work ought to look like and no Standards for who is qualified to do this work, the field of painting is vulnerable to being “run over” by any one with basic transportation, a few tools and a bucket of paint. Painting is a Field Without Walls!

The consequences for such a state of affairs are poignant. First of all, Painters’ Self-Respect suffers greatly; Painters oftentimes do not think much of the work they do and see painting more as work, rather than as a career and an outlet to contribute their best to life. Painters get deprived of knowing and owning how their work touches life in such a special way. The Misery does not stop there; it extends to Consumers! For the segment of the market that has “dabbled” in painting, the kick in the pants comes when that consumer is left with the impression that “they could have done a better job themselves”. I heard it again today from a prospective client! That is bad! What about fulfilling Painting’s Potential for having a Transformational Impact on their Lives? Wow, there is some gap here! Isn’t there? What about the “Owner”, the Contractor, in this picture? The picture is not better: frustration, resentment, disappointment, cannot find “good painters”, cannot satisfy clients, cannot make enough money! Sound familiar? The situation described above grew to be a “burden on my heart that would not go away”! Why: Because, in me, lived a Vision for a much different outcome! Like what? Here it goes:

I see Painting as a field that:

  • Delivers on its Promise to be a Fulfilling, Purposeful, and Exciting Career.
  • Fulfills its Potential for creating a Transformational Experience in the clients’ lives.
  • Provides Satisfaction and Abundance to the Contractor offering that service.

I see Painting as a field where Painters are Certified to meet clearly defined Levels of Competency. I also see Painting as a field where the Steps for Executing the Work of Painting, at a Craftsman Level, have been clearly documented in the form of COPs. I see Painting as a field that has claimed its place in the sun and has gained societal respect and recognition as a Brilliant Jewel in the Crown of Life!

That is my Vision for Painting and my own Business as well!

Defining Vision

From the description I just gave of my vision for the Painting Industry, you can tell that Vision is about a Picture of the Future. To some critics, Vision may sound like a “pie-in-the-sky”, an idle dream or a fantasy. However, Vision is everything but a fantasy: that Vision for the Future is rooted in the “Deplorable Conditions” staring you in the face. It is the Tension between that Current Reality and your Vision for the Future that causes the Power of a Vision to be released! That Tension causes someone to tap into a well of Passion and Energy one had no idea existed. The Energy that is released inspires others to rally around the Vision and own Their Own Vision in the process. Resources are also drawn into the Vision one had no idea were available. Where is the Power of a vision coming from? I pointed to it earlier: when someone Owns one’s Vision, one’s Intent and Spirit align with God’s Grand Design for Humans to be Agents of Positive Change! God is the Author of Visions (as defined above) and is the Source of the Power! Our job as humans is to Claim those Visions and bring them into reality.

The 3 Major Obstacles to Owning a Vision

There are 3 levels of challenges we face in Owning a Vision. I already addressed the first one in Parts 1 and 2 of this series on the “Psychology of Painting”: our tendency as human beings is to get overwhelmed with the pursuit of our own goals, dreams, welfare and ambitions. Somehow, time, money and resources oftentimes seem too scarce to Act on those Deep Stirrings within Ourselves; later, tomorrow, when I retire, maybe! Acting on those Stirrings requires Courage, Faith and Trust. Owning a Vision is a Process and a Journey!

The Second Obstacle in the way of Owning a Vision is what I call the “Shadow Killers of Vision”: SHAME and FEAR. Somehow, when the Vision Stirrings get a hold of us, thoughts like these come up:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • People are going to think you are crazy.
  • People are going to laugh you out of town.
  • I have more pressing things to do.
  • I have a business to run. And bread to put on the table!

Shame and Fear pave the graveyard of countless Visions! However, there is something you can do to gain freedom from that negative chatter. In earlier articles (available by going to the “article section of this Forum’s website), I described two of them: “Entering Competitions” and “Writing for your Industry”.

The Deepest and most Powerful Obstacle to Owning a Vision is this : we are scared to Own our own Magnificence! What scares us the most is not our Darkness, but our Light. In his 1994 Inaugural Address, Nelson Mandella expressed these thoughts in this magnificent way:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be so brilliant, gorgeous, Talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people Won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others Permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence Automatically liberates others.”

It takes courage to confront Shame, claim one’s Magnificence and feel Deserving of being part of God’s plan for Humanity. It is very uncomfortable and scary. Yet, it carries within it the Excitement of Adventure and Possibility!

Owning a Vision is a Journey!

Owning a Vision is a Process, a Journey. There is no quick way to get there, no magical wand! You just have to be willing to say yes to your Deep Stirrings, of the kind we spoke about earlier. When my Vision Teacher business died in 1988, I (figuratively) “Wandered around the Desert” for a few months. It felt like “I was walking in the desert with an electrical cord in my hand, all the while looking for an electrical outlet”! That long walk led me to Painting; the rest is history!

Owning a Vision is the result of saying a lot of Small Yeses! Here are a few things I have learned about the process of Owning a Vision: Your Vision does not need to be fully articulated before you can draw upon its Power. Words and clarity come later. As you enter the “Path”, your Personal Power” and Leadership begin to expand. You have to be willing to say YES before you have Evidence. There comes a point where “it all begins to make sense”. When you get there, it may look to others like you just “stumbled” into something Great”! Vision is the space where Miracles happen! When you succeed at bringing about your Vision, God gets the Glory; you simply fulfilled your mission as God’s Servant!

The Territory of YOUR Vision

If you wonder about where the Territory of your Vision might lie, here is a simple exercise. The basic principle is this: your Vision can be found in the Territory of your DISCONTENT about the “Current Reality” around you. The focus here is on people and life around you, not your concerns for your own life. When you look at life around you, what is it that stirs you inside; what is it that stirs emotion in you? Sometime, we respond in the form of a Complaint, sometime with some level of anger, as if you were witnessing Injustice! Sometime, the only clues might be a knot in your stomach or a kind of sick feeling. You need to be attuned to those signs. This is how you gain insight into where your Vision lies. The logic for this approach is that you would not complain about something if you did not have a picture of how things could be different.

Vision’s Impact on a Business

I believe that, in the heart of all human beings, there lies the desire to be Significant and know that one’s work fulfills a greater purpose than one’s self-centered concerns. Making the Boss rich and powerful will not go very far! When a Vision is Owned and Communicated fully, something extremely powerful happens in an organization: Inspiration! When people are inspired, they bring out their best. They use their creativity and talents in new ways. You notice things about them you never knew were there. From a business perspective, Extraordinary Performance and Transformational Experiences are the ultimate results of Owning a Vision!