To achieve anything significant, you have to start with WHAT you want accomplish and suspend any discussion of HOW you will do it. That comes later. First, you must get clear on WHAT.
Leadership research confirms that transformational leaders create a stronger, more effective vision by presenting a positive view of the future AND expressing confidence that it will be achieved.
Here are seven steps for developing a crystal clear vision without talking yourself out of it before you start.
1. Set aside the how. This needs to be a deliberate, conscious decision. Say to yourself “Look, I know I’ll eventually have to figure out HOW I’m going to achieve this. But for the next hour, I’m going to get clear on WHAT I want.”
This takes discipline. You’ll be tempted to slip back into figuring out how you’ll pull it off. In fact, the bigger the vision, the greater the temptation. This is normal, especially if the vision scares you.
2. Stand in the future. Human beings are adept at being mentally detached from where they are. So let’s use this to our advantage.
Locate yourself at a point in time in the future. It can be a year, three years, or any future time you choose. The important thing is to choose a specific date, then mentally transport yourself to it.
3. Use your imagination. This is where it gets fun. Too often we use this ability in a negative way. We imagine a WORSE future and then worry about it. Or we imagine everything that could go wrong in the pursuit of a better future and begin listing the reasons we should be content where we are.
This is not the highest use of our imagination. To create a vision, we need to summon our best, most creative thinking to imagine a brighter, better future. This is where every improvement or breakthrough begins—in our THINKING.
4. Employ all five senses. The more concrete you can make your vision, the more real it will seem and the more powerful it will be. One way to do that is to invoke each of your senses. In the future, what do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste? Describe it in vivid color and detail.
5. Record what you see. Nothing creates clarity faster than forcing yourself to write it down.
Do this in 2 stages. #1, just do a brain dump. Write down the vision as a series of bullets. Don’t worry about structure or grammar. Just write. The goal is to get the vision out of your head.
#2, go back and fine-tune. Now is the time to rearrange what you have and clean up the grammar. Keep tweaking until you get it 90% done. (Don’t let perfection be your standard.)
6. Use the present tense. Write in the present tense. That way, it will seem more real. It will also help convince your brain that the vision is going to happen—it’s already a reality.
7. Let it simmer. In one sense, the vision is never done. Until you achieve it, you will be tweaking it. That’s because as you move toward it—and begin to see it taking shape—you’ll gain even more clarity. As your vision comes into even sharper focus, you can revise it.
At this stage, share the vision with your team or people you trust. But be careful here. You don’t want to invite people who will dismiss your vision out of hand. Instead, you want people who can offer honest feedback and help you get even greater clarity.
To create a brighter, better future for yourself and the people you lead, you have to start with the vision—a clear, compelling view of the future. You can’t afford to let yourself get bogged down in HOW until you are clear about WHAT.”
Words by Michael Hyatt