To better understand my philosophy around leadership I want to define a few key terms. Let’s start with vision.
1. Vision is perception. Your inner compass that guides you. This can entail your perceived attitudes, fears, arrogance, or humility. It is how you perceive motives behind actions and words. How you perceive posturing or jockeying for position. How you perceive transparency or hypocrisy.
When you develop your perceptive skills, you then can become prescient, which is the ability to foresee what others may likely do or how they will react. On a larger scale, a visionary leader ‘knows’ because he has seen it. He perceives the future because he recognizes the patterns from the past and present. This is not guesswork. It is both science and art blended together. It is the science of psychology and studying human behaviors. It is the art of making sense of patterns and being able to predict where you and your business need to position themselves.
2. Vision is discernment. Discernment is a close relative to perception, but it is closer to the wisdom that one attains as they perceive what is going on around them. Discernment is the ability to see the many shades and angles of a situation, just as a painter is able to distinguish multiple shades of gray. Perception is the knowledge one gains from being aware of what is around them and discernment is the actions one knows he must take.
3. Vision is believing to see. Most people say they will believe it when they see it. A visionary starts with the belief, because in their mind and spirit, it already exists. It is as real as if it were right in front of them, yet in many cases can be more real, because they can feel it within them.
4. Vision is what reality can be. What hinders vision is fear and the accompanying blinding emotions of anger, hatred, pride. These emotions can blind the inner eye. A visionary is able to see the future without the fear, without the negative. They see what could be if human weaknesses didn't override them. Most of our restrictions are based on what we fear may happen or on our lack of believing anything is possible. True visionaries don’t allow those negative emotions to blind him.
Now, let’s talk about a couple practical ways to develop your visionary skills:
1. First, get around visionaries. Read their books, go listen to them speak. Attend their conferences and listen to how they communicate their visions. By my getting around that visionary chancellor, I began to understand what my own vision was. I stumbled crazily for several years, as many visionaries do, but now, I see my future. I see what my company can and should be. And today, I run with many visionaries to help me hone my vision skills.
2. Read good biographies of visionaries of the past.
3. Study people. We are taught in school to study facts, and that is appropriate. We have textbook readings and outside readings, but I urge you to do your "inside reading." Study the lives of those around you. Great visionaries are often acutely aware of what is around them. Yes, they can seem totally absorbed in their work at times and not seem to notice their peers, but that is often not true. It is a misperception. Great visionaries are usually very aware of what is around their lives and what the true issues are that affect them and others. Perceptive students study the life of their professors as much as they study the lives of those the professors point out in class. I try to study the people who come to my seminars to hear me speak. I'm sure I study them more than they study me.
4. Role-play on the big issues facing the nation or the world today. Some of the visionaries I know role-play at solving all the major crises facing this world. Attempting to solve huge problems forces their minds and spirits to work overtime coming up with solutions. The key to this is to not become stressed by this activity. For example, how would you solve the immigration problem? Or the Iran tensions? Or the North Korean tensions? Or the trade barriers and tariff issues of today? How would you solve the mass shootings in this country? How would you solve the racial tensions and strife? Forcing your mind and spirit not to just take old views or comfortable non-involvement promotes visionary thinking.
Make sure to follow and subscribe so you get my next post of leadership where I’ll tackle the topic of cultural development. Stay tuned.