Are you so busy doing that you have lost sight of your vision, or even never known where you are going? How much more could you achieve with real clarity?
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How big is your vision for yourself? Do you have one? Can you visualize who, where or how you will be in 10 or 20 or 30 years from now? Or do you function like most of us that are so busy doing that we have either lost sight of our vision, or perhaps never even had one? It isn’t really something that is taught very well these days, is it? Or has it ever been taught very well?
Visualization is defined as: “creating a picture of something in the mind”. I like to call it “imagining what something might be or look like long before it has actually manifested”. I’ve said many times that before anything of any significance can be created it first has to be an idea in someone’s mind – probably a picture. Can an artist paint a rose before first “seeing the finished work in their mind”?
Long term in business
In today’s “instant everything world”, everything seems so short term focused, doesn’t it? I remember in my early career we used to have 10 year and certainly 5 year business plans. Strategy functions, particularly in global corporate technology companies would look at and try and imagine and predict future demand and expectations, so as to try and steer R&D and capital requirements etc. Long term planning was something we all understood the need for, even if it was quite difficult for many of us to imagine “being able to see that far ahead”. We would also differentiate medium term from short term planning. Short term was the current and next year’s budget.
I remember many European global companies being so proud of having been listed on the New York stock exchange and having moved towards the US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). I also remember how many of us executives noticed how big an impact that had on the company business culture, in that the entire business focus seemed suddenly only to be on our performance in the next quarter. Four quarters made a budget. There was a business reporting forecast done every quarter which was fine-tuned every three months so that our end of year numbers were met as closely as possible. I got the impression that meeting business analyst expectations in terms of predictability of targeted results and growth patterns was much more important than the actual substance of the numbers itself. Asking about a 5 year plan or vision was met with an incredulous stare – “are you for real – 5 years?!”
Long term in politics
Broadening that picture into macro terms, we were talking amongst friends over a golf weekend and found how commonly cynical the view was about a recent election. Was there any indication of any real vision or was it all about the short term focus of getting into or staying in power? (And then only for a 3 year term!) Wondering what the vision our leaders might have for the next 10 or 20 or 30 years from now invoked wry smiles. I thought Dick Smith’s then personal investment in challenging everybody’s position on the size of Australia’s population seriously highlighted this lack of vision of something so fundamentally critical to all of us that love this country
So what does this mean for us each as individuals? In my work as a coach, I see so many examples of professionals and leaders, even business owners struggling with the question of vision. At the start of a coaching program, I ask them to imagine looking back on their life at age 90 and to reflect on their legacy and that vision of themselves.
If I asked you to do that right now, how deep or superficial do you think your vision of that might be? It varies a lot depending on how seriously you wish to take this. Unfortunately it is (almost) a self evident truth that success will only follow a vision or a dream of an outcome first aspired to – in your mind. And then accompanied by a deep belief in your ability to achieve it and that you deserve it. Then only will you follow that up with a plan as to how you might go about achieving it.
What do I want?
The 7 words coaches hear most frequently are: “I don’t really know what I want”. You know from my previous blog articles that I was no different and that it took me quite some time to develop my picture of “what I want”. So if I’m striking a chord with you, please don’t consider yourself being judged here. Most people are so “short term conditioned” that we have lost our ability to be able to think longer term, let alone reflect about our vision. Reading the points from the business and political domains I have made above, does that surprise you?
Most coaching programs direct substantial effort assisting the client to define “where they want to be”. The value the coach adds is to challenge the “I don’t know” with an approach of “what if you did?” and to keep removing any doubts or barriers in your beliefs or thinking. We help you realize that you simply haven’t allowed yourself sufficient time in the past to dedicate to these questions. That it has been so much easier and simpler to “just keep being busy” and pushing that nagging question of one’s vision into the background. The coach won’t allow that. We will hold you accountable to the outcomes and the visions you seek. Of course that also often includes helping define and plan what the expected actions required might be.
So let me return to the beginning where I asked: “How big is your vision for yourself? Do you have one? Can you visualize who, where or how you will be in 10 or 20 or 30 years from now?”
What if you were to allow yourself the freedom of creating some space in your life to either revisit your vision or start to develop one? What if you did and it gave your life’s work more clarity of purpose and direction to do what you were born to do, rather than just “existing” and busily doing “what needs to be done?”
If that seems too distant for you, what if you engaged a coach to assist you with that? What if you did and it made all the difference for you? What are you afraid of? What are you waiting for?