Published: Working World
One of the most powerful and positive actions you can take in your life is to create a vision for yourself. Warren Bennis’ interviews of outstanding leaders in business reveal that the one quality they all have in common is their ability to “manage the dream.” It seems they set the vision in place for both themselves and their organization; then they manage their actions and lead their people toward achieving that vision. As Brian Tracy says in his book Maximum Achievement, “Taking any two people with the same relative levels of intelligence, background, education and experience, the one with the greatest intensity of purpose will always win out over the other.”
It is not possible to engender “intensity of purpose” without knowing where you’re going. A vision connects you at a visceral level with your future. Through writing down your desires and then speaking them aloud, you in fact start the process of painting your future. Creating your life through thought and word is a rare and life changing gift that we all have; but so few of us use this gift. Let’s look at how a vision can interact in your life to provide energy and direction.
1. Life is Second Creation. In Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he discusses how everything we experience in life is really a second creation. The first creation always originates in the mind before the evidence of that thought is activated externally in the world. This is a very empowering thought, if truly owned. The actuality is that many of us unknowingly or through resistance refuse to take responsibility for creating; and thus, first creation takes place in someone else’s mind and is evidenced in our life. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that life is happening randomly. It isn’t. Either you take responsibility for origination or someone else does. It is that simple. I know who I want determining the substance and detail of my life—and that person is me. Who do you want creating your life?
2. Vision Creates Tension. The moment you establish a vision for you or your organization, tension automatically occurs. This tension is developed between the existing comfort zone you live within and the stretch your vision causes as you establish “where you are going.” From the moment you speak your vision, you in fact start living within two worlds — your today and your tomorrow. The author of Creating and The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz, after studying tens of thousands of people on creativity, concluded that this tension comes from the “limiting beliefs” we have of our own unworthiness and the larger context we have created with our vision. The reality is that this thinking is limiting. A vision, to be a true vision, must always be larger and bigger and bolder than we are today. None of us has to reach our vision in a day . . . we simply take one doable step at a time, as we keep moving ever closer to our vision, until one day, almost magically, we have become what our vision required us to be.
3. Catch the Draft of Your Vision. Creating a vision in your life, which you hold out in front of you, is very powerful. By putting a vision in place, your life feels as though you are “drafting.” This is a term often used in automotive speed racing, when one racer places his car behind another to catch the draft of the front car. By doing this, the second car is actually being “pulled” forward by the momentum of the first car. Through utilizing the technique of “drafting,” less gas is consumed and the racer requires less effort. A dynamic vision creates this same kind of pulling forward or “drafting” momentum that will make life easier for you.
4. Power Comes with Vision. As we emotionally and passionately create our vision, we connect our internal resources to opportunities outside of ourselves that support us in achieving our vision. Internally, radiating from within the oldest part of our brain stem is a small network of cells called our reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS provides us with the unique function of filtering incoming information to support our goals and visions. Without us even knowing it, this powerful internal tool is automatically aligning us with the external world so that we are in the right place at the right time. The system is always working to produce the results we request, whether positive or negative. The unique aspect of this system is that it is always working for you; so when you don’t use it to support yourself consciously, it will be taking its lead from your unconscious. If you aren’t getting fulfilling results in your life, take a look at what you are unconsciously creating.
5. Vision Requires Tacking. Often we see where we are going and think we know exactly the way to get there; but flexibility must be part of our approach if we really want to arrive at the destination we have set for ourselves. Just as a ship pulling up its anchor and leaving its safe harbor for a distant destination is required to make constant adjustments which take into account the unexpected winds, tides or storms in order to reach port, so too do we need to navigate along the way to our vision. In fact, most of the time the ship is off course, and it is through its constant adjusting or tacking that the ship arrives at the proper port at all. No one experiences life as stumble free or unobstructed by hurdles, which is why a vision is so necessary. A strong vision will keep you on purpose as you navigate the unexpected dips and twists of life.
6. Vision Gives Us a Measuring Stick. Some of the toughest decision times you are required to face in life are when you reach those crossroads of indecision that create agitation as you try to decide which way is the best. The indecision comes because both roads look good from the limiting view of today; but when measured against your vision for tomorrow, only one will be the right way for you. It is almost as though the right path has a sign posted saying, “This Way to Reach Your Vision.” Without this vision in place, confusion rules and the possibility of traveling down a road that leads away from your “heart’s desire” substantially increases.
Now that you see the considerable benefits a strongly held vision can bring into your life, start your creation process right away. Be proactive and take control of your life with intention by consciously turning your dreams into reality. Start by thinking large and bold; but also, explore what would be noble and would also connect to your passion. Your vision should stretch you well beyond where you are today; but at the same time, some part of your being must believe that it is plausible for you to ultimately attain this destination. Your vision should be specific and provide you with an exciting, guiding direction for your life. Envision achieving your vision—does it emotionally incite you? What speaks to your heart? What energizes you when it comes to mind but at the same time, challenges you? Write it down now, and start living your tomorrows today.