How to develop Vision
I’ve been working on my 2nd book, 10,000 Hours of Play, and part of the Six Steps 10K HP Journey is to develop Skills based on our Attributes.
One important Skill (Step 4) to acquire is Leadership. However, Leadership does not stand by itself, it is built upon three important Attributes (Step 2): Vision, Execution, and Empathy.
During a live coaching session for my mentorship Guild Octalysis Prime, an OP Member asked about how to develop Vision to become a better leader. This led me to a breakdown of what it truly means to develop vision.
Firstly, it’s important to address the common misconception that vision is an inherent trait – you either have it, or you don’t. But I firmly believe that vision, like any other skill, can be cultivated if we deconstruct it into more manageable components.
The Three Pillars of Vision
- Imagination: The bedrock of vision is imagination. It’s the ability to see beyond the present, to envision a future that others might not yet perceive.
- Logic Checking: Vision must be rooted in reality for it to be actionable. This is where logic checking comes in. It involves critically assessing your imaginative ideas to ensure they are feasible and practical.
- Conviction: The final element is the belief in your vision. Conviction is what propels an idea forward, transforming it from a conceptual stage into a tangible goal.
Imagination is very important to having a vision, because vision literally means that you’re seeing something that is not in front of you, something that you haven’t seen before and maybe even no one else can see.
All the other people who don’t have vision can’t even see it. You can even describe it to them and still, they won’t see it because they just don’t have imagination.
And imagination, of course, stems from creativity.
There’s a lot of exercises out there about how to become more creative, if you lack creativity just go to YouTube and search for “how to be more creative” and you will get tons of results from very smart people.
In a nutshell, creativity is when you can find connections and associations between all the many things that you have already seen.
We usually don’t come up with anything from scratch, I believe everything comes from somewhere.
Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” talks about 2 types of imagination:
- Creative Imagination
- Synthetic Imagination
Creative Imagination (unconscious and spontaneous) is when inspiration strikes out of nowhere, and you get a brand new idea from thin air. These are the “Erueka moments” that scientists and artists become famous for.
Synthetic Imagination (conscious and intentional) is when you combine things you know to create something new.
Whatever the case, both types of imagination require you to have more life experiences.
Examples of creative imagination could be:
- Issac Newton sitting under a tree and after an apple falls on his head he gets inspired for what later became “Newton’s law of gravity”
- Archimedes taking a bath and screaming “eureka!” when he came out with what later became the Law of Bouyancy (Archemides’ Principle).
- Percy Spencer melting a peanut in his pocket by accident while boosting the power of his company’s radar – this led to the invention of the Microwave.
- Dr Spencer Silver failed at creating a super strong adhesive and instead created a weak one useful only to hold paper – together with Art Fry they invented post it notes.
- Hans Christian Oersted when setting up some machinery and misplacing a compass, this produced a magnetic field around it. This tiny accident inspired what would later become Electromagnetism that drove inventions from the telegraph to the motors and technology we know today
Examples of Synthetic Imagination could be:
- Unicorn – a Horse with a horn
- Pegasus – A horse with wings
- Car – Combining wheels + a platform + an engine.
- Smartphone – combining cellphone + computer
- Smartwatch – combining smartphone + watch.
- GPS – combining satellite + smartphone
- Self Driving Cars – Combining Computer + Smartphone + Satellite
Whatever the case, whatever type of imagination you get, you need to have some type of input into your brain.
So if you want to have imagination all you have to do is start focusing on having more life experiences. Travel more, see more things out there, see more solutions and strategies, play more games.
The wider the range of life experience exposures you get, the more imagination you can have.
In short: When you are trying to be creative just focus on connecting things together in interesting ways to create something new in your mind, this will expand your imagination and will help you have more vision.
Now the second part of having vision is logic checking that imagination, because you can just imagine a lot of random things, but you could just be a crazy person, right?
“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success” -Bruce Feirstein
If you really think about it, it makes sense, right? Both geniuses and crazy people sound alike, the only difference is success.
And in this case, the difference for that success is that the genius is able to prove her crazy ideas to the world.
This is only possible with logic checking.
Even if the idea is exciting, colorful and makes you feel really good, if it’s not powered up by logic checking, it will never become a reality, and it will never be able to turn into vision.
It’s so important to logic check those things you imagine. A simple way to do it is to just ask: “Is it possible to get there? Is there a route to get there? Have others been able to do something similar?”
Logic checking relies heavily on pattern recognition skills. So yes, this is where going to school to do math and philosophy really pays off. We don’t actually learn that stuff just because it will help us right there on the spot when we are learning. Instead it’s to help us think and recognize patterns.
These logical skills are used to connect the dots from point A to point B to point C. So when we have this imagination, then we logic-check like:”Hey, could this be possible based on pattern recognition about how the world works? Is this possible within the laws of physics?”
When Elon Musk thought of flying a space shuttle into space, he didn’t just come up with that crazy idea, that would not have become a vision, because anyone can think crazy ideas, but what made him a visionary was thinking his crazy ideas deeper and logic checking them against the laws of physics. “Is it possible to build our own rockets?”.
This was a major breakthrough for SpaceX. Elon must have thought: “Can we power them up and fly them out of the pull of gravity? Does this defy the laws of physics? If it doesn’t, then it is possible”.
Anything you imagine can be crazy and ridiculous as long as you logic check it, you can transform it into a vision.
That is how the Octalysis group was possible for me, because I started in 2003 thinking of applying game elements into boring real life tasks we needed to do.
But I didn’t leave it as a fantasy, I really thought deeply about it for years, checking and rechecking, testing and retesting those ideas in my head until they became a reality.
During those years I started a blog around this crazy idea but was constantly talking about ways of making this possible (logic checking), and slowly, slowly, very slowly started building my reputation for 11 years until in 2012 “gamification” started being “a thing.” When CEOs wanted to apply gamification in their companies, my name was the first name that popped up.
This eventually transformed into the Octalysis Group, a business that generated millions of dollars in total revenue. So, you see, logic checking is very important.
The third component of vision is conviction of what you imagine, that is, after you have a crazy idea, and you logic check it to make sure it is possible, you become convinced that it can become a reality.
Logic Checking really helps you fully believe in that vision you have, but if you have all the logic, and you never make the decision that the crazy idea you are imagining is truly possible, you will never believe it and it will remain a fantasy – maybe a fantasy that makes sense, but not really a vision.
Also, part of conviction is wanting to do it. If I had a cool idea, and there was a path to get that idea brought to reality, and then I said: “Oh, but I don’t know if I really want to do this” – then that would not be convincing.
I don’t know. It is kind of scary like, yeah, yeah, that’s not a good leader, right? You would say that’s not a good visionary leader.
A visionary leader believes in his vision so much that he can inspire other people to be part of that journey, to go towards that vision. So even though your rational brain, the second part is logic and logical brain knows that, sure, it’s not a sure deal.
Maybe there’s even less than 50% chance of winning. But now that you’re visionary leader, you have to fully believe this is the only way this will work. It has to work. We have to put all our resources into it.
I believe in so much that I’m risking my well-being on the line to pursue this path. And so that conviction of your vision is also really important to being visionary, to developing your visionary skills.
And a lot of times that’s, again, back to the concept of optimism and confidence. As you know, there’s another video called Open Networking and the six Core Principles, Opinions and Confidence.
One of the two of those six principles, it’s important that you have that. So I believe that if you are able to have great imagination, skills, great creativity, can imagine a lot of things that other people can imagine.
You are good at logic checking. You’re good at seeing what it takes for that vision, for that imagined world to happen.
And once you have that, you believe in it so much that you’re willing to commit yourself to it, to take risks to inspire people towards it. I believe you become a visionary leader and you have vision, so you develop your vision skills.
None of that is easy. It takes time and practice, but we have our whole lives to level up, to improve ourselves.
As we improve our lives will have more meaning, even if we’re not leading a company, let’s say even if you’re not leading an organization, right. Having a vision for your family, for your relationship, having a vision for how you raise your children or how you want to finish school.
All this is helpful. A lot of people don’t have a vision for their relationship. They don’t know what the ideal is. Say they want to be competitive right now. Maybe right now that’s the ideal state.
Then it’s not. The vision is how to maintain it for as long as possible because things might deteriorate and they think about, okay, is it possible to get there?
How is it possible? And then believing that we can get there as long as we work together and even as long as I always apologize first, right? I try to do more than the other person. Then it’s possible. But you have to believe in it to make it work. So anyway, so those are the three principles of building a Vision in my mind.