"If your life's work can be accomplished in your lifetime, then you aren't thinking big enough."
~ Wes Jackson
My errands today took longer to accomplish than I had planned. By the time I finished them all, without having had coffee, breakfast, or lunch, I was ready to eat just about anything edible that came into my line of vision. I popped in to Chipotle, wolfed down my burrito bowl, and saw on my drink cup that the restaurant is running a multi-part series entitled "People We're Pleased to Know". Part 5 features Wes Jackson, the founder and President of The Land Institute and a leader in the sustainable agriculture movement.
Wes's quote above lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I've been thinking a lot about accomplishment lately. In my writing, at work, with my multiple side projects that I've been working on. Secretly I've been a little frustrated with myself - why are these things taking so long? Why am I not checking them off the list in rapid succession? His quote reminded me that ideas with passion and heart take time to develop and even more time to execute. The bigger the dream, the longer the time horizon.
This isn't to say that there aren't smaller dreams embedded into the larger vision we have for our lives. There are triumphs, and inevitably defeats, along the way that contribute to a lifetime of work. His life's work was not to start The Land Institute. The Land Institute is a vehicle to help him realize a vision of our world developing a robust, healthy system to feed itself in perpetuity without destroying our planet.
Think of how Wes's perspective frees up our creative energy and encourages us to include others in the process of building our dreams. He is shaping his vision and bringing it to life alongside many others who share his same aspirations, and those aspirations take constant care, concern, and commitment. His vision is bigger than the span of his own lifetime - it actually continues on indefinitely. Failure and success are taken out of the equation with a mission that big - all it requires is that we contribute to steady, forward progress.