Your vision shapes your reality

1666 reads

A railroad crew was making repairs to a section of track when a train rolled up on a parallel track.  Several men in suits disembarked from one of the passenger cars and began inspecting the work that was being done.  A tall man in a blue suit looked over at the crew and nodded.  He began to smile and walk toward them.

"Ted, is that you?" he asked of the crew's chief.

"Yes, it is," the chief replied as he shook hands with the visitor.  "It's good to see you, Dale!"

The two men chatted briefly, inquiring about each other's health and families.  Before they parted, they shook hands again and promised to keep in touch.  When the man in the suit walked away, a member of the crew asked the chief, "Was that Dale Willis, the head of the railroad?"

"Yes, it was," the chief replied.

"It seems like you two are old friends," the man said.

"We are," the chief replied.  "We started out together on this job on the same day 20 years ago."

"So how is it that you're here laying track with us?" someone asked.

"Well," the chief replied, "I had a vision of working for the railroad, while Dale had a vision of running the railroad."

And if Ted is content working for the railroad, his vision was realized.  Dale's vision, on the other hand, set him on a path that he could accomplish only through a step-by-step plan to move ahead.  This story from "Bits & Pieces" perfectly illustrates the importance of vision.

A study done by Fortune magazine examined 120 entrepreneurs over a three-year period.  They were asked, "What do you need most to be a success?"  

The study, headed by Robert Baum, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, pointed to the need to have vision in order to reach goals.  Baum said that 60 percent of people he talks to have wanted to start their own businesses, but that most of what he hears is "I wanna, I wanna."  The people who actually succeeded were the ones who had a vision and knew clearly where they wanted to go.

The American Marketing Association did a study several years back and asked 500 CEOs:  What do you have to do to survive the next five years?  81 percent said creativity and vision. But of the 500 CEOs, 81 percent of them said that their company is not doing a good job at it.  

I suspect that part of the problem is that many companies don't know how to formulate a realistic vision.  They confuse it with goals and objectives, which should come out of the corporate vision.  Vision doesn't do the planning and it doesn't anticipate the obstacles.  It gives a real idea of what is possible, if only they want it bad enough.

Base your vision on principle. An effective vision isn't about processes or products, but principles - guidelines for action and behavior. Explore the values that guide the organization. Rely on principles that are timeless and easy to grasp, even if they're sometimes difficult to live up to.

A vision that inspires people to action doesn't come out of a single afternoon brainstorming session.  Every member of your team needs to spend time asking questions about the organization, your industry, customers, competitors, trends - everything that affects the success of your vision.  You have to build a foundation of learning before you can go forward. 

Don't base your vision on where you are today, but on where you want to be in five years, or 10, or 25.  Think about the direction you want to take and the obstacles you will have to overcome in order to succeed. 

When I speak to corporate America I tell the story of Helen Keller, who was left blind and deaf at age 19 months from a childhood illness.  Yet she became a brilliant author and lecturer who graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College.  She was making a speech on a college campus and during the question and answer session a mean-spirited questioner asked her the following:  "Tell me Miss Keller, is losing your eyesight the worst thing in the world that can happen to anyone?"  

"No," she said.  "It's losing your vision."  You see, eyesight is what we see in front of us.  Vision is all the way down the road.

Mackay's Moral:  Vision without action is a daydream.  Action without vision is a nightmare.

Trending

55
johnsullivan's picture

What’s Wrong With Corporate Culture As A Management Tool? Almost Everything!

The top 15 most damaging shortcomings of managing using your culture It’s no secret that most in HR and many CEOs are enamored with “corporate culture,” which is essentially the “invisible hand” that helps guide the behavior of your employees....
42
sethgodin's picture

But why does it take so long?

The original book could take three years to write. Retyping the manuscript might take a day or two. Modern work isn’t time-consuming because it takes a long time to type. Physical constraints aren’t usually the gating factor, either. It’s not a
71
johnsullivan's picture

Accenture Is Using Tech to Make Onboarding a Personal Experience

Normally I think of onboarding along two dimensions: efficiently handling the administrative work and welcoming a person onto the team so they can be effective. Onboarding, even the basic administrative work, can be hard to do, and technology can
142
vnbhattacharya's picture

NARCOS and the game beyond the game

A critical aspect of strategic thinking is the ability to determine one's strategy in the game at hand by anticipating games in the future. It is especially important to foresee games that may be spawned by playing the game one is offered now.Such
122
sethgodin's picture

Big crew/little crew

Software projects work better with small teams. On the other hand, it makes sense to have multiple teams of workers if you're paving a patch of highly trafficked highway. Three reasons: Coordination Learning Ramp up time As we learned from... 
113
johnsullivan's picture

You’ll Soon Need a Digital Labor Specialist and a Workforce Shaper

Not all your employees will be replaced by robots, but it’s highly likely they’ll be working side-by-side with an automated device at some point in their careers. As intelligent automation becomes more common in the workplace, businesses are
107
mashable's picture

These extremely good Google Maps features that everyone definitely wanted are finally sort of available

For all of you who've been holding your breath this past month, it's finally time to exhale: On Tuesday, Google rolled out some of the hotly anticipated new Maps features the company announced in May. And by "rolled out," we mean "some people
174
johnsullivan's picture

Ready or Not Here Comes Generation Thumb

Talking about millennials in the workforce is so yesterday. Time now to start preparing for Gen Z, or, as Chad Norman calls them, Generation Thumb. This is the generation born after the turn of the century. They’ve never known a...
170
harvardbusinessreview's picture

When India Killed Off Cash Overnight

Bhaskar Chakravorti, the dean of global business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, analyzes the economic impact of India’s unprecedented demonetization move in 2016. With no advance warning, India pulled the two largest banknotes from