Ever had a good idea? Believe me, we have heard a lot of good ideas over the years and a rare few made the leap to a real possibility – or vision, as distinct from mere thoughts, conversations, and hollow promises. What distinguished them from the others? By the sheer expectation and faith of the individual generating the idea, it is transformed into a real possibility and a compelling vision. The distinction . . . a visceral passion to make things happen.
As hockey legend Wayne Gretzgy put it, “Skate to where the puck is going to be.”
Anticipation . . . Expecting success . . .
Steve Young, super-bowl MVP quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, told us that when he first started to play in the NFL, the linemen were so big, he could not see his receivers. He had to have faith to throw the ball to where the receiver was going to be and “trust” that they would be there. His trust was rewarded by becoming one of the NFL’s all-time leaders in pass efficiency.
The expression of a vision has a power far beyond a good idea as evidenced by its effect. Vision engages people to act. Like Kennedy’s vision expressed in a speech, “The time has now come to send a man to the moon and return him safely again.” That was 1962, and the fuel necessary for such a feat had not even been invented yet. Guess what happened the summer of 1969?
A vision is distinct from a good idea by the conviction of the person articulating it and is colored by our trust in their credibility and track record. “When E. F. Hutton speaks, people listen.” When Steve Jobs speaks, people listen. When Tiger Woods speaks, people listen. When Warren Buffet speaks, people listen. When you speak, do people listen? Do you have a record of integrity, pure intentions, and consistent results? Or, are you perceived as talking about work rather than working. Or, as our friend and author, Brent Peterson, calls it, “fake work,” Are you perceived as always preparing to sell or as someone that lets your results speak for themselves? Are you constantly discussing fabulous business plans, yet have never launched a successful business?
Good ideas transform into visions when they are expressed with both the conviction and the credibility that moves the listener in a visceral way to envision possibility. As Werner Erhard put it, “The role of leadership is the transformation of an ideal into a possibility or vision.” Jack Welch adds, “Vision is the essential element of the leader’s job.” You must have the credibility and platform to convey your vision in a way that makes people believe it will go forth regardless of the circumstances. Good ideas are dependent on the argument that supports them. Vision is a possibility and expectation with no evidence to support it. In other words, expect miracles.
Look to your own experience to validate this. How many seemingly impossible things have you accomplished? Things that you were worried about, yet hoped for, that ultimately came to pass? For example, did you find your soul mate, make a sale, get a job, write a book, graduate, start a company, get promoted and on and on? Things that, at the time you anguished over, yet somehow believed in the possibility of, had faith in? Even successful people have doubts. Oprah once asked me, “How can you have a vision when you don’t know what’s around the next corner?” (“O,” it seems it turned out!)
Children are brilliantly optimistic about possibility. Unfortunately, we socialize it out of them and turn them into “realistic” adults. Many adults are arguments for negative possibility. They question everything. The hidden agenda behind their questions is really a request for certainty. They do not have a propensity to trust but a propensity to distrust. A scarcity mentality. Glass half empty and all that. As George Bernard Shaw aptly put it, “All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Certainty is an illusion. As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing”.
Take some risks this year. Be open to the possibility that things may just turn out. Elevate your good ideas to a visceral vision worth living into — a stand worth taking. As Chairman Peter (Drucker) liked to say, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”