How clear and detailed does our vision need to be? Clear and detailed enough that if it showed up, we’d recognise it. Without that clarity, it won’t have the necessary guiding effect on our actions. Without that clarity, we won’t notice the relevant opportunities that come our way; we won’t see that they fit; in fact, we won’t see them at all.
That’s all very important.
But here’s the key…
We need to place ourselves in our vision. We need to see where we fit in the end result, and in turn, the journey to get there. Otherwise we won’t truly step into the dream. We won’t connect it with our life. And we won’t take the actions we need to take to make the vision a reality.
It feels safer to see a future state that doesn’t include our role in it. But then we disconnect ourselves from the journey to get there. And so we don’t take the right actions. And our vision doesn’t become a reality.
It takes courage to see yourself in your vision, taking the lead you know you can take.
But that’s what you need to do (if you want to change anything anyway).
Vision comes before purpose in theory but because the whole process is iterative, that’s a bit of a pedantic distinction. Having a vision is important because it opens us up to noticing opportunities that will help us move toward where we want to go. Before we can create something in reality, we have to create it in our heads first. Why is that? Well, I think it’s like this: Our brains are primarily pattern recognizers. They draw our conscious attention to external sensory input that matches in some way with patterns we already have inside. So, if we want to notice those pieces passing by in the external world that relate to what we want, then we want to set up the necessary internal patterns first. We do that by developing a vision.
We need include ourselves in our vision for it to be fully effective. If we create a vision of some improved external state of our organization or the world at large, then, sure, we’ll recognize steps along the way of that development when they happen in the external world, and we’ll be a well-informed spectator, but our connection with and involvement in the development won’t be there, because we haven’t set ourselves up to recognize parts of the pattern that have something to do with us.
Holding a vision that doesn’t include ourselves is a mistake to which we are liable to be particularly prone the more ambitious the vision is. If we set out some change in the world that we know is possible, that we can play a part in leading even, one way of keeping ourselves safe (apparently) is not to write ourselves into the vision. The problem then is that we won’t recognize the opportunities that come our way to play our part in achieving the vision. We haven’t set up our internal patterns correctly. We’ve programmed ourselves to be an observant spectator rather than an effective contributor. Active participation is liable, therefore, to pass us by, as will remunerative reward for contributing.
Writing ourselves into our vision makes the difference between being a spectator in the stand at the games and being actively involved on the field below. On some issues, we might be quite happy to be in the stand, but if we want to play our full role in the world, we need to pick our event and write ourselves into the story.