For four intensive weeks, Julianne, Treacy, and I been pouring ourselves into figuring out what Treacy’s nation is going to stand for. And when I say intensive, I mean it. At one part, I’m pretty sure I heard Treacy say, “Can we do something fun now?” She was laughing, though. I think.
It’s taking much longer than I thought. Figuring out her natural resources was comparably easy. Making a decision on what Treacy wants to do with her career, her life — that’s been a process filled with more than a little angst. But it’s also brought the three of us together fiercely. That’s gratifying for me — it’s exactly what I’d hoped would happen as part of this process when we were developing the concept of nation-building. If nothing else, I know we’re willing to shed blood for this.
Every day, we’ve been asking questions and brainstorming and pitching new ideas. Every day, we think we’re going home with the winner, and then something comes up that makes us circle back to our original intentions and consider new possibilities. It makes it a challenge to document the process — I want to share what we’re doing, but I feel like if I do, it’s going to change tomorrow, and I’ll look like an idiot. I guess that’s part of documenting the truth, though — you have to be willing to look like an idiot.
We finally have it solid enough, though, to where we’re starting work on developing Treacy’s declaration — that bedrock of beliefs that will serve as a foundation for everything we’re building together. Our mission yesterday was to free-write about those beliefs and what we’re going to do about them. We’re putting all of that into a living document that we can then pull apart to find the gold and craft it into something we can all sign, committing ourselves and everything we’ve got to these beliefs and the building of this nation.
Which brings me to this whole process of building nations, and why we’re choosing the projects we work on so carefully. I’ve gotten more than a few baffled stares when I’ve shared about the vision-casting that we do with potential nations. “You mean, I have to pitch my vision to you? Aren’t I the one making the financial investment? Shouldn’t I be sending you an RFP so you can send me a proposal? That’s how it works.”
Well, that’s how it works if that’s the game you’re playing. But we want more; that’s why we created a new process. Building a nation takes whole-hearted commitment on behalf of every person involved. We can’t just take someone’s money and go build a nation for them. We have to believe in it. We have to desperately want it to exist.
Even once we’ve decided to build something, that means we can’t ever compromise along the way. Nobody gets bulldozed over; nobody gets left behind. If someone’s got reason to think that what we’re doing isn’t going to work toward our goals, then we’ve got to hash that out. It feels amazing to be so deeply and collectively committed to something, but it can be intense. And it takes as long as it takes.
If you’re building your own nation and you’re stuck in figuring out what your nation stands for, I’ve created a worksheet for you. Unfortunately, my laptop is in intensive care, and it’s being held hostage on my hard drive (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that this week. Grrrr.). In the meantime, make sure you know your natural resources, and then ask yourself:
- Who are the people of this nation?
- What problems do these people have that this nation is addressing?
- Are the people currently aware of these problems? (They need to be, or you’re going to have to do a lot of educating in addition to problem-solving.)
- What does this nation believe about these problems?
- How does this nation solve them?
- Is this something me/my team is willing to shed blood for?
- Is this something the people of my nation are willing to shed blood for?
- Why is this nation necessary? How are its intentions not being served by organizations currently in existence?
(And by the way, when we talk about shedding blood, it doesn’t have to be so heavy as all that. The point is, do you really believe in this? With everything you’ve got? Do you believe in it enough to lay everything on the line?)