Prescription pills dominated my family’s outlook on medicine when I was a kid. By 60, my grandmother’s age matched the number of pills she took daily. Yet, this didn’t tip me over the edge to create a vision of a better future where people used traditional remedies and food to heal themselves.
I was 13 when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While she went into remission, I witnessed the chemotherapy cause a host of problems such as depression, exhaustion, hypothyroidism, and bowel issues. Seeing her like this sparked my passion for finding a better solution by healing people through nutrition.
When she got cancer the second time, I was able to help her heal through ancient treatments—treatments that wouldn’t kill her body during the recovery process.
Watching my mom recover through a holistic approach fueled my life’s vision. I imagined a future where families’ cabinets were full of healing agents like turmeric, collagen, and probiotics instead of prescription meds that did more harm than good.
This has driven all of my professional endeavors, and I can honestly say it has been the key to creating multi-million dollar businesses like DrAxe.com and Ancient Nutrition.
Vision is a crucial tool for success. Without it, people and their organizations operate without purpose. This causes low impact, chaos, burnout, poor team morale, and the development of a toxic work culture.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to avoid this path by teaching you:
- What vision is.
- Why it is the top driving force in business.
- How to create a vision that motivates and excites you.
- And the best strategies for clarifying it over time.
What Does It Mean to Have a Vision in Life?
As pastor Andy Stanley says in Visioneering (a primary reference for this article), “Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.” This portrait of a better future fires you up to take action, gives you purpose, and keeps you feeling inspired and passionate.
Without a life vision, a person feels aimless and unmotivated because they have no clear idea why they exist. “What to do with my life?” and “How am I supposed to spend my time on Earth?” become common questions. However, knowing it clears the clouds and allows you to see your North Star. From there on, it’ll always be there to direct your goals, actions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Why Does Vision Matter in Business?
Visionary companies are the crown jewels of their industry, widely admired by their peers and having a track record of making a significant impact on the world around them.Jim Collins, author of good to great
Vision is what leads to extreme transformation. For instance, think of organizations like Apple, Google, and Amazon. The founders of these companies have all been visionaries in their own right. That’s because bold leadership is vision-based. The greater the change, the clearer the vision must be.
Vision is also what creates buy-in with followers. As leadership expert John Maxwell puts it, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. People buy into the vision after the leader buys into it.” Again, look back on leaders like Steve Jobs. When John Sculley told Jobs he wouldn’t give up his title as CEO of Pepsi to work at Apple, Jobs replied: “You want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Jobs’ belief worked with Sculley—he was CEO of Apple for ten years.
How to Create a Vision for Your Life
1. Begin Asking Deep Questions
Everyone’s life vision is unique because God has a different purpose planned for each person. However, it is up to you to recognize and pursue your calling, which is done through deep internal questioning.
To create vision, ask yourself:
- What does my ideal future look like in the following areas:
- What problem or burden in the world bothers, angers, or ignites me?
- Consider the current solution (if there is one). Why isn’t it good enough? If there’s a better way, what is it? If there’s not a solution, what do you feel like the remedy is?
- Do you feel a moral imperative and responsibility to solve it?
- Know the problem must compel you to act now based on your ethics, values, and principles.
- Think about how your moral imperative aligns with God. Does your vision connect with God’s vision for the world? For instance, how will solving this problem make Earth a more heavenly place?
- Are you willing to make sacrifices to solve this issue?
- Realize fulfilling a vision requires sacrifice. For instance, during the height of the pandemic, the leaders at Ancient Nutrition all took a 30 percent salary cut to keep our team together.
2. Focus on an Issue the World Can’t Wait to Solve
As Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google once said, “Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems.” This is because people want to help you solve pressing issues. No one will jump out of their seats to fix a problem that might affect them in 50 years. To gain followers who want to join your cause, you must identify and solve a problem causing someone irritation, frustration, hurt, or pain right now. This is the only way to get others invested in working toward your solution that leads to your big vision.
How to get people to take your problem seriously:
- Raise awareness. One of the best ways to gain followers is through education. Whether through blogs, interviews, videos, or speaking events, find ways to inform others on what the problem is and why your solution matters.
- Create a sense of urgency. Let people know why acting later can’t wait. Describe, in detail, how the problem affects them now and what will happen in the future if they don’t solve it.
- Speak with conviction. True purpose-driven vision feels like a moral obligation. This allows you to authentically communicate your vision to others and get them excited about working toward a better future, too. It’s one of the key tenets that have made Amazon leadership principles a success.
- Describe what the world is like when the problem is solved. Again, to get people motivated, show them how great life could be if they join your cause.
- Call people to act. Additionally, provide clear directions on the next steps. Break this down with three distinct actions people can do now to instigate transformation and change.
3. Develop a Vision Statement
Once you’ve found a problem and solution worth pursuing, you need to clarify your vision. Do this by developing a vision statement. A vision statement is a concise description of the direction you and your business intend to move in. On the other hand, a mission statement states what the company is currently doing to achieve the vision.
Every person leading an organization should craft a vision statement, as it will serve as an organizational roadmap. For instance, executives should use it during strategic planning, goal-setting, and decision-making. This helps keep the business on track to fulfilling its purpose and staying away from distractions that don’t drive impact.
When writing a vision statement:
- Discuss your “why.” Make sure what you write speaks to why your business exists and the problem it solves. For instance, LinkedIn’s vision statement is, “Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce,” while Apple’s is, “To make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.”
- Describe what your company hopes to achieve in the future. Elon Musk’s vision for SpaceX is a good example of this. He is quoted as saying, “My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars—this is very important—so you don’t have to carry the return fuel when you go there.” Above all, vision statements should aim high and speak to what is possible over the next few decades.
- Get feedback and revise it. Vision statements aren’t written in ten minutes. Remember, this statement is what will guide your entire company. It requires a significant amount of thought. Once you finish the first iteration, share it with other leaders, mentors, and business advisors to craft an even sharper version.
4. Work on Casting a Vision
As a leader, it’s not enough to have a personal vision statement. You must be able to cast a vision and communicate it to others. Keep yourself and others laser-focused on being purpose-driven by relating your vision to everything you and others do. While it might seem redundant, constantly connecting work, goals, and progress to your vision helps your employees stay motivated, inspired, and passionate about the transformation they’re bringing to light.
To work on casting a vision:
- Set aside time in your daily schedule to refine or expand your vision. For instance, establish a visualization practice where you spend 15 to 30 minutes a day imagining what the finish line looks like. As Sarah Blakely, the founder of SPANX, says, “You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a Polaroid picture of where you’re going to be in a few years.”
- Communicate your vision out loud. Make your vision come alive by constantly communicating it. This might look like making it a goal to connect the company vision to employees’ work during every one-on-one meeting.
- Hyperfocus on the details. Vague and vision should never be in the same sentence. A powerful vision is something another person can clearly see in their mind’s eye. The better picture you paint, the more likely people will feel inspired to join your cause.
- Emotionally resonate with people. Talented visionaries like Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to how the problem he was fighting affected his followers emotionally. As a result, they felt compelled to act.
5. Reverse Engineer Your Vision
In Visioneering, Stanley explains, “Opportunity apart from preparation results in missed opportunity.” It’s not enough to communicate your vision and why it’s important. You must know what needs to happen to set things into motion, keep the momentum going, and how to navigate the road ahead.
To do this, reverse engineer your vision and plan for the future by:
- Starting your day off in prayer. Ask for direction and the ability to align your vision with God’s vision. As Saint Augustine once said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
- Thinking about what it takes to make the vision a reality. During your visualization practice, vividly imagine achieving your vision. Now, begin working backward and strategizing on how to break your large-scale accomplishment into smaller measurable goals. What did it take to get to each one of these goals? What tasks must be done? Who helps you get there? Consider every facet of each phase of the process to lead your team better.
- Making planning a habit. Don’t just imagine these things—write them down. More importantly, schedule time to work on your goals. If you own a business, include them in your business initiatives. Remember, every job you or someone else does should get you closer to the vision.
6. Avoid Distractions
Beverly R. Imes, the founder of Positive Impact, warns, “Be aware when distractions come your way. You’ll know it’s a distraction when you stop doing what you’re supposed to be doing and find yourself pondering things that have no value.” While there are many different types of distractions, they usually fall into three categories.
- Opportunities: Be careful of saying “yes” to every opportunity that unfolds. Vision requires focus, and focus requires saying “no.” As Steve Jobs once said, “Focus means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.”
- Criticism: People who experience success or dream big always face critics. When criticized, respond by speaking vision into your own life and the life of the person criticizing you, as well as the potential life they could live. It’s the best way to silence them.
- Fear: Without the right mentality, fear is paralyzing. Adapt to fear by developing a growth mindset that helps you view challenges as an opportunity to learn and develop. Remember, the significance of your calling overrules your option of retreat.
7. Know Your Vision Will Mature and Grow Over Time
Creating a vision can feel daunting because there are so many moving parts and pieces. Yet, keep in mind that it will mature over time. For instance, it took Moses 40 years to expand into God’s vision for him. As demonstrated in the Bible, leading God’s people out of slavery and to the Promised Land was an incredibly strenuous, challenging journey. But, powerful visions emerge in cynical, critical, and stubborn environments.
As you develop your vision:
- Stay flexible. “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details,” Jeff Bezos explains, when describing why Amazon has experienced tremendous success. Figure out the “why” that drives you and don’t budge on it. However, understand your vision will grow over time.
- Choose a problem you can’t live without solving. As mentioned above, your vision must fire you up. Solving a problem that’s plaguing society must fuel your soul. You won’t have the endurance needed to go the distance if it doesn’t. For this reason, passion and patience go hand in hand.
Invest in Those Helping You Achieve Your Vision
Vision is undeniably one of the most important leadership qualities a person can have. However, as you pursue your goals, don’t forget to pour into those helping you make them a reality. As former US Secretary of State Colin Powell puts it, leadership is: “[N]ot about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.”
This might look like:
- Acting as a servant leader that cares for and anticipates the needs of others.
- Identifying, acknowledging, and playing people to their strengths.
- Giving specific and unique praise and positive feedback to each individual on your team.
- Vocalizing your confidence and belief in a person’s abilities to take on a new task or bigger responsibility.
- Mentoring your team regularly, so they learn how to lead.
- Paying it forward by helping employees find their vision in life.
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