Part 2: Vision: The Uncommon Career – Life Accelerator
In part 1, we discussed why Vision is important and why it is so uncommon, and how to overcome some of the fears relating to setting a vision. In part 2, we get into the practical tips of how to set and execute on a vision.
So how do you do it?
Just like any other skill, becoming a more visionary person requires a couple of foundational skills or principles. Let’s discuss each of these briefly along with how to start acquiring these skills.
- Courage: Guts: Getting comfortable with risk and the fear of failure. Like we discussed before, high reward often goes hand in hand with high risk. If you are by nature not a risk taker, you will be very uncomfortable with setting a singular vision and going after it. Overcoming that discomfort and fear takes courage and often more than a little bravery.
- Confidence: Once you have envisioned a potential or desired future state, the next step is to chart a path there. Especially if you are a leader, this is the time for confidence. You cannot waiver or become wishy-washy in your approach. You have to be all-in. I’m not saying storm blindly ahead and don’t flex as you get more data, but if you’re not confident in your vision, you will not lead yourself or your teams there. No one (including your own brain) will follow a non-confident leader.
- Humility: This seems counter-intuitive to require courage, confidence, and humility. Here’s why that makes sense. I can guarantee you that you will be wrong at some point. No one bats a thousand their whole life. And the more visionary you are, the more you will “strike out”. Legendary American baseball player Babe Ruth hit an amazing 714 home runs in his career of 22 seasons. The much lesser known fact is during that same time he struck out 1,330 times. How do you handle “failing” that many times? With humility. Two important requirements here:
- Don’t take yourself so seriously! You have to have a sense of humor and be OK with being human. Pretending to be perfect or getting upset if you are not, is just a recipe for failure and disappointment. So be OK with being human, be ok with failing and have fun with it!
- When you’re wrong, admit it. In my article titled “Being Authentic: Why dropping the mask matter more than you think”, I talk about Authenticity. Part of authenticity is being willing to admit that you’re human and imperfect. Some people think that makes you look weak. Here’s a tip: Ignore them. You know better. The people who matter to you will respect and appreciate you for being authenticly human.
Some practical exercises to build your vision muscle:
- Make time for it. Time is the great equalizer. Every single person on the planet only gets 24 hours of it every day. How much time you spend on specific activities in your life reveals what you value or deem important in your life. So how much time do you spend per day, per week, per month or per year on setting and revision your vision? I bet very little; which is exactly the reason for the article. So, if you agree on the value of vision, I hope that you will value it enough to invest some time into it. Set aside a half hour per day, or an hour per week or whatever you feel you need to do nothing but work on your vision, your goals and your roadmap to get there. There will be no better investment that you can make in your future than time spent on refining your vision.
- Ask yourself “what if” questions. There is a phrase that says “Politics is the art or the possible”. Although I hate politics, I love that phrase “the art of the possible”. I think of vision as the art of the possible. And it starts with allowing yourself to dream. “What if I could start a business that would …”, “What if I could be VP of …”. Or even better “What if we pooled all our resources to find a cure for cancer” or “What if we could eradicate homelessness in my city”. The art of the possible. It is the first seed you plant in your brain to start playing out scenarios. Be very careful at this stage though. Don’t start solving problems or killing ideas here. You’re dreaming. You’re brainstorming. Just keep dreaming. The solutions part comes much later.
- Be highly observant and understand trends. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, we tend to operate in “barely-survive” mode. We start to narrow our world to only what matters to us. This causes us to miss some of the “fringe” events that often are the start of an important new trend or the forbearing of a new future. Going through life with eyes wide open helps us to spot upcoming trends that not only might impact us but if we could play out the scenario and get ahead of it, could really accelerate our success.
So there you have it, some practical tips to get you started. My hope is that this article has whet your appetite enough to do some more of your own research and really become a lot more knowledgeable on the topic, or even better … to become a regularly practicing Visionary.
I’d love to know if you’ve learned anything or are taking any action steps in your life around this subject area.