“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town, and, as an older man, I tried to change my family.
“Now, as an old man, I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I could indeed have changed the world.”
These comments, commonly attributed to an unknown monk in the year 1100, illustrate the power of vision.
A vision is the mental picture of what you desire. Clear goals are essential, but having a vision is more than just achieving goals. You must have inspiration, motivation and a believe-in-yourself mentality. A vision provides hope and a desire to work harder. Having a vision means having a clear sense of purpose.
I learned long ago that projecting oneself into a successful situation is one of the most powerful means of attaining personal goals. Vision doesn’t do the planning and it doesn’t anticipate the obstacles. It gives a real idea of what is possible, if only you want it bad enough.
Author J. Oswald Sanders said: “Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare.”
Here are some of the facets of a successful vision:
Realism. Many people have visions that are not attainable. You need to have a clear picture of what you want.
Desire. The will is as important as the skill. If you believe you can do something, you have a chance. If you don’t, you won’t.
Focus. How many times have you heard an athlete talk about focus? It’s a topic I also hear about frequently in business. The most common complaints: Too many irons in the fire. Too many projects spinning at one time. Too many interruptions, phone calls, e-mails. Too little time. Decide what is most important, and stay focused on that as best you can. Don’t let things happen to you — not when you can make things happen instead.
Confidence. Even the most successful people have struggled with confidence in their careers. The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you’re willing to work hard and achieve some success.
Flexibility. No matter how good your ideas are or how committed you are to your vision, remember that things change. Be ready to modify your plans so you can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.
At age 40, Thomas Watson Sr. became general manager of a little firm that made meat slicers, time clocks and simple tabulators. However, he had a vision for a machine that could process and store information long before computers were a reality. To match his lofty vision, Watson soon renamed his company International Business Machines Corp. He was asked late in life when he envisioned IBM becoming so successful. His reply was simply: “At the beginning.”
In the early 1970s, Fred Smith described his vision for an overnight nationwide air express delivery system in a term paper for his economics class at Yale University. Today, Federal Express delivers freight and packages in more than 220 countries across six continents each day.
Mackay’s Moral: A vision without a task is a dream. A task with a vision is drudgery. But the two together are the hope of the world.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.