“I’m 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball and I’m about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life“. -Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams is not only my favorite sports flick, it is one of my all-time favorite movies of any kind. Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) was an ordinary man who chose to give up his “corporate” job and steady income to become a farmer… and moved with his family to a farm in Iowa. There, he taught himself how to raise crops and to survive off the land, counting on the fruits of his labor to support his family. Financially, they were struggling, but were content and confident in their new life.
Everything changed for Ray one day when he was out in the cornfield and heard the epic seven words that echoed around him, “If you build it… he will come.” Ray was not sure whether this voice came from God, from his own mind, or from somewhere else, but the message was clear… “If you build it… he will come.” What “it” meant or who “he” was were unclear, and Ray had no way of knowing what he should do, much less if he should do anything at all. Was this a calling from a higher power or had he simply been out in the hot sun too long?
Ray chose to follow the advice of the voice, and each time he took a step forward he was given a another clue, whether by another “voice from above”, a dream, or another person that helped him to understand the calling that he had received. Over the course of the film, Ray traveled an amazing journey which resulted in his plowing over much of his corn crop to build a baseball field, his driving across the country to help (and to be helped by) a variety of interesting characters, and ultimately his witnessing of the newly constructed baseball diamond transforming into a “magical” and “heavenly” place. Soon, Ray was amazed as the ghosts of old ballplayers, like Shoeless Joe Jackson, came out of the cornfield and played ball on his newly constructed diamond. In the end, the “spirit” of Ray’s father, whom had died years previously after a falling out with his son, emerged from the cornfield and reunited with Ray… allowing them to reconcile and for Ray to find the peace for which he had yearned. (And if that is not enough… strangers from all over the country were then drawn to see Ray’s field and even paid him to watch the magical baseball games… solving his financial worries as well!). Ray built “it”, and “he” came… and then everything else then fell into place.
I am sure that my handful of paragraphs don’t do this epic movie justice, but hopefully you get the idea. Ray Kinsella was an ordinary guy who followed a calling from above, took a series of leaps of faith, and ultimately fulfilled his destiny. On one hand, I greatly admire Ray for his boldness in taking one seemingly crazy risk after another to follow the “voice”, not knowing how everything would turn out. On the other hand, I think he had it easy… he heard a booming voice from above that told him what to do. Sure, it was a vague and confusing voice, but a voice nonetheless with some guidance on what mission he was meant to undertake. I have often wished that I would hear that voice… some booming command that would knock me off of my path and take me on a magical journey to fulfill my own destiny and to make the impact that I’m meant to make in this world. If not a voice, maybe some stone tablets can drop from the sky with my future clearly carved out. Really… I am not picky.
But life seldom provides booming voices from above, or clear instructions etched in stone… the path we are meant to take is more subtle and often far less obvious. But the signs are there… internally, we know the adventures that draw us in, the activities that delight us, and the accomplishments that make us proud. Some of us may be living that life now, with a career and a mission that satisfies all of those criteria and allows us to serve the world and to find peace and actualization. Others of us are not. If the signs are all there, what is keeping us from taking the leap?
Internal Barriers to Heeding the “Voice” and Finding Our “Field of Dreams”:
- Fear of Failure?
- Living up to Someone Else’s Expectations?
- Feeling That There is Time for That Later?
- Fear That Others Won’t Follow?
- Difficulty for a “Control Freak” to Give Up Control?
- Fear of Not Making Enough Money?
- Concern That a Change Now Renders Past Choices Meaningless?
- Addictions and Temptations to Take the Wrong, and Easier Path?
Whatever the barrier, we will continue to feel a sense of nagging and even yearning to discover the right path, and to find what adventure we are called to take. And beyond the internal signs, there will be external signs as well… we just need to listen. A chance meeting with an old friend with some advice at just the right time. An article or advertisement that resonates strongly every time we read it. An activity that makes the world slow down, our minds feel clear, and our hearts feel joy. Whatever the medium, God’s “Voice” is reaching out to help us find the path that we yearn to walk. We need to listen, act, and repeat. It may not be one big, booming step, but instead a series of small ones… regardless if we continue to heed the voice then I do believe that we ultimately will find our own personal “Field of Dreams”. And then, everything else will take care of itself.
As to me… well, “I am 36 years old, I love my family, and I am listening for the voice that will lead me on the crazy journey to fulfill my destiny.” My career has thus far led me along a fascinating path in which I have been able to learn from and partner with brilliant and inspiring people, to travel the world and see first-hand the stark contrast of abundant wealth with that of extreme poverty, and to better grow and understand my own unique skills, interests, and passions. I have no doubt that right now I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and that the sum of my experiences will serve as the foundation for the next phase of the journey. And, as I stand here now in my “cornfield”, I am listening for that “voice” that will guide me forward to where my destiny ultimately awaits. Whether this will require a big dramatic step or a series of small ones remains to be seen, but it is time to listen, act, and repeat. This blog, “Innovation on Purpose”, that I have been writing over the past several months is an example of trusting the “voice”, following my love for writing and teaching, and taking one small step to see where it all leads. While I may have not yet plowed over a cornfield, I have at least planted a seed.
Listen for the voice, continue to build, and see what comes… and have faith that you ultimately will find your own “Field of Dreams”.
I wanted to thank all of you for your support, advice, and encouragement over the past several months as I have started the journey into writing that is this blog. It truly has been an unexpected and rewarding experience as I have re-engaged with old friends, built new relationships, and made connections with individuals from over 75 countries (some of which I had never heard of!). It has been a true blessing and I am honored that so many of you have taken the time to read some of my thoughts and ideas. This blog was a first step, and I believe a book will be the second. We shall see where the journey leads…