We hear the word VISION so many times; and assign it so many meanings, that we lose sight of what VISION really is (pun intended).
I've done goal setting exercises, visioning exercises, mission statements, core values, and all sorts of things that are intended to give you clarity around where you want to go, whether it's a business vision or a personal vision.
In the past few years of my life, I have helped others gain clarity around their business vision and how that ties to their personal vision. And yet, I found myself wondering, "What is MY VISION?"
So, I did a visioning exercise... just like the ones I have my clients do; and guess what? I was moving in the wrong direction at break-neck speed. In the coaching biz, we call this 'Not Being Authentic'.
I don't want to get into the details of my stuff, but I do want to share a few stories of what VISION truly means; and how it can make an amazing difference in your life.
As a business coach, I help business owners create more successful businesses. Most business owners will define this success in the form of 'more sales', 'more customers', 'higher paying customers', 'happy employees' and ultimately 'greater personal wealth'.
What most business owners don't ask themselves is, "What will I do with more wealth?"; "How will this wealth make my life better?" You see, I've obtained wealth in business; and all I thought I wanted to do now is start up a new business, grow it and sell it... all over again. Then I asked myself, "WHY?".
I'm not judging anyone who wants to gain wealth through their business. I also empathize with those who are frustrated when they can't gain traction with their business dreams of gaining personal wealth. However, the point of a business and of gaining wealth needs to be much deeper than simply getting someone to pay you money for your product or service.
The best way for me to communicate the importance of vision is with the common story of the Mexican fisherman:
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
The Mexican fisherman would have had to catch a few extra fish than the ones he used to support his family. He would need money for a boat, bait, clothes for his children, shelter for his family, wine, etc. The point of this story is that we often create a grand idea of a business... like the Harvard MBA. We then spend years of our life sacrificing our family and personal enjoyment to make this business dream come true. What have we really gained?
I want to tell you a story that may be a little more relevant to the modern day white collar working stiff.
John was a corporate executive who was stuck in middle management. He hired a coach because he felt like the coach could help him develop the leadership skills he needed to succeed at the next level. While John wanted the promotion to District Manager, he was afraid how a promotion would affect his already tentative home life. John's coach decided to use a common life coaching tool to clarify John's life priorities called a Life Wheel. The Life Wheel is simply a graphic wheel with eight (8) spokes that helps you access eight ares of your life: 1) Personal Development; 2) Spiritual Awareness; 3) Fun & Enjoyment; 4) Relationships (social and intimate); 5) Health & Aging; 6) Personal Finance; 7) Career/Profession; and 8) Family & Parenting.
On a scale of 1 to 10, John rated himself an 8 on Career/Profession and a 5 on Intimate Relationships. When the coach dug deeper into why his rating was so low on Intimate Relationships, some relationship issues with his wife came to the surface. When the coach asked about John's 6 rating for Family & Parenting, John shared some areas of disconnect with his kids. Even with the lower ratings, John felt, if he could do better at work, he could make more money and his family would be happier with him.
After the Life Wheel exercise, John's coach asked him to create a perfect life vision for himself in 5-years and then in 10-years. John created an image of a happy family and a close relationship with his wife. He also mentioned that he had reached a high level of success at work. John's coach pointed out to John that in order for his vision to become a reality, he would need to spend more effort on his relationships with his family than on his work. He has to go from a 5 to a 10 with his wife; a 6 to a 10 with his kids; and only a 8 to a 10 with his career.
Tears filled John's eyes as he believed there was a no-way he could achieve a happy family without giving up at work; and he couldn't a loss at work would ultimately translate to a broken family who relied on his income. When John's coach prompted him for the real reasons he wanted to invest more of his time at work, It turned out that John felt like he was more in charge at work and felt disrespected at home. This feeling gave John the sense that he was more loved and respected at work and so that was the place he wanted to be. John's coach explained, while his "feelings" are certainly valid, "feelings" can be very deceiving.
It turned out that, that John was disengaged at both work and home. At work, his employees did what he asked because of the authority he wielded. John had obtained his management position by demonstrating an excellent work ethic and getting things done. He tried to force this same work ethic on his people at work; and they responded on some level. He could hire, fire, promote, demote, and give raises at work. His employees tolerated him and treated him respectfully, but they didn't respect him. At home, his family was no different than his employees; but they were able to get away with disrespectful behavior.
John learned that by engaging with his family and with his staff at work, he was able to create deeper relationships. He found that by listening to his family and his employees, he became more liked; and more respected. This shift in John's actions benefited him at work and at home. John became more engaging by becoming more authentic. Authenticity meant that when John made a mistake, he exposed his error without pridefulness. And, when others made mistakes, John was understanding and forgiving; not judgmental. At home, John started sharing more of his flaws with his kids; and started discussing work with his wife and asking for her help.
Ironically, John's shift in his actions started to create a new reality in his work and his home life. He was praised for his ability to lead at work and garnered the promotions he desperately desired in the beginning. Even though he had more responsibility, he worked less; because his staff worked to prop him up. He was the best leader they ever had. This allowed him to spend more quality time at home and build his relationships at home as well. He realized that by creating a vision; then connection action to his vision, instead of having to give up one life goal for another; he was able to BE a different person and accomplish all of his vision... just the way he'd imagined.
It is appropriate that the word business is derived from the word busyness. It is our busyness that prevents us from taking the time to be authentic and understand what we really want from of our lives.
Just like the story of the Mexican Fisherman, John's Story was not about his position or promotions or anything that we normally put in our achievement visions. Instead, John's Story, like the Mexican Fisherman's story was about BEING.
Visioning can pull you out of your current circumstance and it can shift your thinking from a state of achieving to a state of BEING; which will manifest itself in meaningful achievement.
In the case of the fisherman, he was already at his life's vision. He didn't need to move one bit from where he was; even though the ambitious Harvard MBA thought otherwise.
In John's case, he needed to change how he viewed others in his life; and move from "feelings" to "truth".
In both cases, John and the Mexican Fisherman, knew their vision; and their vision gave them a sense of security in who they were in the present.
As a business coach and 30-year business veteran, I help my business owner clients change their mindset in a way that allows them the freedom and profitability they’ve always hoped for, but never thought possible. If you’d like to develop a successful business mindset, I offer online training along with individual and group coaching sessions.