The Value of the Vision Thing – in Politics, Business and Life

Ideas. Insight. Inspiration.

The Value of the Vision Thing – in Politics, Business and Life

March 15, 2010 Life Skills Politics 2

A lot of people in business and government talk about vision.  And no doubt about it, vision is a great thing to have.  Yet, fortunate or not,  it is our lot in life , both collectively and individually, that we see but through the glass darkly.  And no one can deny that there is more that we fail to see than we are able to see.  That’s not to say that our vision is failing, or that we fail at visioning.  Only that our best efforts are restrained by all that time and space conceal.

Still, those who we recognize for their vision are, more often than not,  satisfied to see what they see and begin with that,  then fill in the blanks while adapting to changes as they unfold.   Indeed, an artist faces a canvas, a blank sheet of music, or a problem to be solved, with only an inkling of an idea, and that’s enough to begin.

Everything worthwhile is started this way

Ask any artist, and that’s what they’ll say

They begin the work though they don’t yet see

Soon, the work tells the artist what exactly it wants to be.

I find writing to be a wonderful exercise of my vision.  And even though my vision for this blog post was dim at best when I began writing (as was my vision for my blog, 2 years ago, when I first began working on it), I now see another metaphor coming into view.

This time, it’s fog.  Because going through our lives is much like driving through a fog.  You can’t see hardly anything, but you can know where you want to go, and if you’re patient and attentive,  you can see the road directly ahead.  And if you keep your eyes on the road and keep your destination firmly in mind, you can make progress.   And on occasion, the fog clears for a moment or two, and you can see far ahead.  In those brief moments of clarity, you’re able to better anticipate how to respond to the changes coming into view.

When people lack confidence in themselves, they look to their leaders to provide them with vision.  Some of those leaders succeed.  They are able to lay out before us the answers to those potent questions:  What are we doing?  Why are we doing it?  Why does it matter?

Most so-called leaders don’t and won’t provide any vision, because the only thing they are watching out for is their own self interest.  Self-interest is the antithesis of effective vision, because vision is about glimpsing the ideal as it effects the world around us, not just us.  Vision is comprehensive and expansive, unless it’s tunnel vision, in which case it’s oblivious and expensive.

Visionaries are visionaries because they are in hot pursuit of their idea of the ideal.  They look at what is, compare it to what might be, the current state and the desired state, and then strive mightily to reduce the differences.  Or they look at the world coming into view, know it can be better, set their sights higher, and strive with relentless determination to move in that direction.  If they possess wisdom as well as vision, they surround themselves with people who have a knack for planning and action, who seek to be a part of something greater than themselves, and who are willing to work together to bring about the positive changes that lead towards the light ahead.

It’s a bold and often courageous stance in life to seek the higher ground, to pursue the golden ring, to see the opportunity for a better world, a better life, and better chance for ourselves and those who follow and then take it.  Where there is no vision, the people perish, because the lack of attention creates blindness to impending circumstance.  But in the context of the ideal, of the better way, the better world, the challenges can be taken into account, and then taken care of in order to continue onward.

There is a dark side to the vision thing.  I’ve seen it in the halls of government and in the lives of the governed.  And I’ve witnessed it in too many businesses and organizations that start out towards a glorious conclusion but get lost along the way.

And here is how this sad turn of events happens.  Turns out that if you only talk about the bright light on the hill, and point to it, and exclaim about it, but fail to address the darkness that’s closer in and take practical steps to dispel it, people become cynical, skeptical and full of disappointment.  Then the idea of the ideal is obscured by the darkened minds and eyes that start believing in and telling stories about and investing in the fog instead of keeping their eyes on the prize of progress.

Want to improve your vision?  Start by envisioning your idea of the ideal.  If the world were perfect, according to you, what would it be like?  How would it work?  If work were perfect, if your business or department were ideal, what would that look like, how would that feel, what would be happening?   Once you can describe your idea of the ideal, you begin taking practical steps, NEXT steps, that either reduce the difference between what could be and what is, or that move you and the world around you one step closer to that visionary ideal!

Your comments and feedback are most welcome!

Be well,



2 Responses

  1. Chad Larson says:

    Great entry Dr. K, I’ve never seen “vision” described quite that way, very interesting to consider the dark side of a vision. I also appreciated the call to action at the end and the encourgement to improve our own vision. My passion and vision is always for health which I have idealized in many ways in my mind. My lofty vision is to introduce (or remind) natural medicine to the masses. In many ways it seems insurmountable but I know that is a weakness in my vision, just because it has never been done before. I am not talking about the kind of natural medicine Dr. Weil has championed but a more fundamental shift in philosophy and consciousness. I am happy that MDs like Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz are introducing pieces of natural medicine but where is the ND in the spotlight who has been rigorously trained in and is a bonefide expert in this field? And more importantly, to me, how could an ND realize his vision of a broad media audience in a culture of conventional medicine? I need to continue channeling my inner Superman.

    Your student,

    • Chad, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, and here’s my response

      I support your vision, and have had the same questions present themselves in my own mind. Dr. Oz and Dr. Weil, both of whom have taken some risks and stepped outside the domain of what had been done before, are bridge builders. That’s an important function in the change process.

      But the real test of the bridge is whether people can use it to cross the chasm in understanding that still exists in healthcare consumers. Is it strong enough to cross. How many will it hold? How stable is it? From what I can see, the bridge is strong and stable enough, and will hold more than a few people.

      To realize your vision of being that ND in the spotlight with a broad media audience, you begin with the inkling of possibility which you now have. Then you step up whenever opportunity knocks, put your take on this topic out there in front of more and more people, and let nature take its course. All the while, keep yourself connected to the idea that the universe only made one of you and has use for you. That makes you the right person in the right place at (and here’s the best part) the right time!

      I recommend that you study the domain where you want to boldly go before stepping into it. From my experience with TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, the media is about as predictable as you could hope for it, and if you can predict it, you plan for it. It (chunk up high enough and we can lump them all together into an ‘it’) seeks charm, credibility and controversy. It also cherishes people who can formulate complex ideas into simple, easy to understand statements (talking points) and relatable stories.

      Another pattern I’ve observed is that, unless you’re astonishingly lucky (luck is where opportunity meets preparedness), it may take some money to get to a bigger stage. (Yes, people who wind up in that spotlight often pay for initial access. That includes paying thousands for testimonials, thousands for several minute long segments on national shows, etc.) With so many experts clamoring for the spotlight, the system responds to the ones offering to pay for it. That’s true with media, and with bookstores too. It’s the way of things, moreso now than ever.

      Maybe it’s time you start putting a little something away each week into your PR fund. $50 a week for 52 weeks gives you $2600 bucks to start a PR campaign a year from now. Meanwhile, develop your main themes, want you want to say, and maybe start writing too. When the time is truly right, you’ll know it, because your fund will be calling out *USE ME NOW* and the demand for what you have to say will obvious. Then call me, I’ll tell you what PR resources I recommend.

      It’s not at all that hard for me to imagine you succeeding beyond your wildest dreams, but you’ll have to take a few chances and face down a few disappointments along the way. That’s the stuff of courage and character. My take on you is that you have both.

      Best wishes,

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