Imagine having less than $200 to your name, a young family to take care of, and agreeing to carve a mountain to honor Native American heroes. No one was going to help you — it would be just you, the mountain, tons of rock, blasting equipment, and the occasional herd of mountain goats, but this would become your life’s work. Through thick and thin and, I imagine, many naysayers, you would persevere because you have a mission, a calling, a vision, to honor Native Americans. Can you imagine having such a driving vision for your life?
Recently, my family and I visited the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota and we encountered the story of a man, Korczak Ziolkowski, who had such a singular and encompassing vision for his life. The Memorial is a huge mountain carving (larger than Mount Rushmore) and a tribute to one of the great Native American heroes. It is more than just a carving in a mountain though, it also has a significant museum about the Memorial and Native American culture, and the foundation has created the Indian University of North America that provides numerous educational scholarships to Native Americans.
The story of the creation of the Memorial, which Korczak Ziolkowski started in 1947, is truly inspiring. At the request of Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota Chief, Korczak took on this task and had the vision to include in it a Museum and a University. Today, the carving and blasting continues on the mountain-side and the University is a work in progress as well. Korczak and his wife had 10 children, some of whom still work at the Memorial. What struck me about them is how he was virtually broke and started this carving. He saw it as his life’s mission and he had a vision for his life. That vision had three parts: the mountain carving, the museum, and the university.
Throughout our visit, I felt humbled by the vision and determination that it took to take on this task and see it through. The Memorial is completely privately funded from admissions and contributions to the Foundation. I kept wondering about what my vision is for my life. What is the big thing I am meant to do? Or in the words of Simon Sinek, what is my “why”?
Indeed I want to help people with Reiki and coaching. I want to make the world a better place, care for my family, run a few races, have some fun, and eat some great meals. But, why? What’s the big vision? What really great and powerful thing can I accomplish that will leave a lasting impression on the world — that will make the world at least a little better than it was before?
I’m not certain of the answer yet, but I’m enjoying the exploration of my vision for my life and my “why.” How about you? What is your vision for your life? How do you express it? And how does it shape your day to day life? Please share your story in the comments below!