“The empires of the future are empires of the mind.”
— Winston Churchill
Most successful leaders emphasize the importance of a visionary attitude. It makes one wonder – what is a vision? A vision is different from a dream or a goal. It is somewhere in between. Dreams are intangible and maybe even vague, they are the necessary pre-condition to a vision. A vision is an amalgam of these dreams as seen through a sharper focal lens. There is the element of ‘visibility’ in the word, one must be able to clearly picture the dream, to transform it into reality first through one’s mind. “Thoughts become things”, says the author Mike Dooley. Goals, on the other hand, come after the vision. They are the steps towards the vision and are vital in their very tangibility. One needs goals to follow a vision, as a measurable means to the end.
To have a ‘visionary’ attitude, however, is more than having a dream and transforming it into a goal. It is also, to quote John Scully, to see possibilities before they become obvious. This ability is at the core of success of any profitable business model and drives companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon. Indeed, the companies which generate the highest profit are also known for their innovations.
When one is an entrepreneur, vision becomes more important. Ray Kroc, the person who founded McDonald’s, pictured his company long before it existed and envisioned how to get there. He invented the company motto (‘Quality, service, cleanliness and value’) before he even started the company and he kept repeating it to employees for the rest of his life. Management experts stress on the importance of creating the ‘brand identity’ of a firm. This identity can only be built on the vision of the company.
But why should individuals who are not running organizations have a personal vision? The answer is simple. It’s simple optics really. What you focus on expands. When you have crystallized your dreams into a vision, it’s a compact aim to focus on. The more you focus on it, the more you reiterate it, the faster you manifest it. Also, you attract the resources and people that help you fulfill your vision. “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future” claims an adage.
So have a vision. Know where you want to be. How else will you get there?