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On the Corner

by Robert Docter – 

“Nothing happens unless first, the dream.”

It sounds time consuming. It isn’t. We haven’t got time to be dreamy–but if you are going to establish goals for your life–or your family–or for the Army, you better be about it fast–and you better start with some kind of a dream or vision.

What is it? Do young men see visions and old men dream dreams…or is it the other way around? I can never remember. It doesn’t matter. They are both the same when the focus is on the future. Dreaming the “impossible dream” or describing a “vision of what can be” are identical processes. It is a pre-requisite to goal setting. Nothing is achieved without a goal, and a goal is not a goal unless it’s written down.

But why the urgency? Because there’s no other choice. The metaphor of baseball helps us understand this.

Baseball moves from pure, concentrated stillness to urgent alacrity with the crack of the bat. A choreographed ballet goes into action accompanied by magnificent singing in the stands. The fleet-footed runner darts toward first base while the agile shortstop bends at the waist, poised to intercept the speeding ball. He grabs it and fires it toward first. If he executes his role on the team perfectly, the runner arrives only a fraction of a second after the ball. The play is often called “bang-bang” as the ball arrives in the glove of the outstretched first baseman just before the runner’s foot pounds on the bag.

From pure, concentrated stillness to urgent alacrity. That’s the need in the Army at this time as our concept of MISSION2000 changes from a single date on the calendar to a full century of committed service. We’re looking at the next 100 years–at CENTURY2000. We’re looking at a Salvation Army for your great-grandchildren.

What do you see when you look into the Army’s future? What’s your vision or dream? What’s the same and what’s different? What do we keep and what do we abandon? Who establishes the vision for your corps–your Army? Are we actors or only people acted upon– manipulated by events outside us? What do you want to have happen? Are you going to be involved? Is it important to you–or are you going to “let George do it” or “leave it for Harry”?

We begin an important process as we struggle to move this weathered, cumbersome organization into the 21st century. Change is thrust upon us with such speed that we no longer have the luxury of a leisurely pace. Major organizations rise and fall at the drop of a hat.

The baseball runner racing to first is named “Change.” You are the shortstop, dressed in your pin-striped, Army uniform. Are you going to make the play–or are you simply an uncommitted spectator watching from the sidelines?

I’m no spectator. I’m never on the sidelines. I’m involved. I’m a player–and I always want to be on the first team. I want this Army to change in a direction that meets the challenges of the new millennium while maintaining the values of its tradition. My vision (or dream) isn’t fully fleshed out yet, but I hope to make it specific enough so that goals might be developed from it. Then, I want to fit my vision into those created by others. It is, after all, our Army, not my Army. This is a group process. We’re a team. Sharing visions will require some negotiation and discussion. I might have to give a little. I’m willing. I don’t think any of us will be too far apart.

The object of the game of baseball is to find your way home. It requires strategy and tactics and help from others. The winning team has involved all the players. There’s something about that word–home. What we will be undertaking is a vision of how we can traverse the bases–how we can safely avoid three outs. Home is where the heart is. It’s true. That’s where your vision for the Army is as well.

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