What’s In a Vision?

There’s a story I like, which may or may not be true, about the building of Disney World, which opened in 1971, five years after the death of Walt Disney. Many of the speakers at the opening ceremony lamented that Walt couldn’t be there to see Disney World. Then his widow spoke, and said something along the lines of: “Of course Walt saw Disney World. If he hadn’t seen it, we couldn’t have built it.”

In my mind, this story perfectly illustrates the power of a personal vision. The ability to imagine and in a sense “see” a path forward can often energize mighty efforts and thereby enable significant accomplishments.

Many of us are lucky enough to experience a personal vision – perhaps more than one – without any intention or assistance. But I believe you can cultivate this ability to see something that doesn’t yet exist, and as a result greatly enhance your productivity and success.

Here are some guidelines for seeking, honing, and capturing one or more personal visions that can guide you into a better future:

Unleash Your Imagination

A personal vision is tied in with your imagination. Whether your vision arrives as a flash of inspiration or a steady yearning for what might just be possible, it’s a product of creative mental processes that arise from deep within you.

That power of imagination is central to your ability to come up with a personal vision, and it’s also crucial to your subsequent efforts to flesh out and realize what you initially see.

Once a personal vision emerges from your imagination, you’ll make the most progress toward realizing it when you:

  • Think visually about how your idea will look when fully realized,
  • Think analytically about what supporting elements your idea will require, and what benefits it will produce,
  • Think narratively about how to explain your idea to others, and
  • Think intuitively about how people may feel about your idea, and about how to engage their values in your efforts to win support for it.

Accept Uncertainty

Because a personal vision focuses on something that doesn’t yet exist, there’s never a guarantee that you can bring your vision to fruition. It’s inherently uncertain.

This can naturally lead to some hesitation about initially owning your vision, as well as later fleshing it out and expressing it to others.

But embracing these negative aspects of uncertainty is like punching a hole in the hull of a ship: it’s going to cause problems and could ultimately sink the entire idea.

Instead, try to embrace the positive aspects of uncertainty, including the potential for success, and the benefits that can flow from making your personal vision a reality.

Remember that even a glass half empty is also half full.

Take It as a Direction

A personal vision generally emerges as something less than a road map. It’s more of a starting place, with a direction for travel. For this reason, it’s a mistake to worry too much about any details that may be missing from your initial vision.

Instead, use your personal vision as a compass to guide your thoughts, researches, and actions. Starting with your vision’s simple beginnings, you can contribute additional work that can lead you toward a specific goal, a comprehensive strategy for action, and a series of practical steps that can ultimately bring you to success.

Anticipate Pushback

Rare is the personal vision that everyone immediately accepts and supports. In most cases, your personal vision will challenge at least some accepted notions and threaten one or more established values or customs. It may even appear to violate current ideas of what’s possible.

None of this means your personal vision is worthless. It means only that you should look for ways to weaken this resistance and overcome these objections.

The sooner you understand that no progress is ever suggested without encountering pushback, the less time you’ll spend fretting over inevitable confrontations and opposition to your personal vision, and the earlier you can begin to combat them.  

The arrival of a personal vision is a gift that you should welcome with open arms. Even the least practical personal vision provides an opportunity for you to strengthen your imagination and cultivate new awareness that can greatly contribute to your future productivity and success.

And of course, a viable personal vision has the potential to galvanize you and those around you to meaningful action that can pay off in many ways, including greatly enhancing the satisfaction you get from your work and your life.

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