The Future Comes To Those Who Make It

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

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When you’re walking along the beach, early in the morning, everything past the waves on the beach is invisible. You know there’s an ocean out there, but due to the fog bank, you can’t see it. Just like you know there’s a future out there, but you can’t see it.

This is where so many visions fail. The people involved can’t see past the fog bank, so they avoid anything about the future, missing the people on the small fishing boat and the ocean liner carrying passengers to far away places.  There’s a critical shortage of the Christopher Columbus’, John Glenn’s and Elon Musk’s who saw a future and made it happen.

Some of this is a simple vision block, we tell ourselves we don’t have a vision and so concentrate on the tactics that wind up taking us nowhere.  But some of it is also because we’re so tactically oriented that we don’t take the time to dream.  We think we have to be in a state of constant busyness – and you know what they say about a body in motion staying in motion.

Finally, there are those who think that planning gets in the way of a grander scheme to which we’re only a part of.  There’s an almost Biblical ban on strategy because it could get in God’s way.  I could be wrong, but I subscribe to what a famous dreamer, Galileo once said, ” I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, intellect and reason intended for us to forgo their use.

The perfect way to predict the future is to create it.  There’s a wonderfully simplistic, strategic sense to that, Abe.

The Value Of Vision

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore M. Hesburgh

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I was at a conference recently that included a visit from Pat Williams of the Orlando Magic, who talked about leadership. He stressed the importance of vision. Pat says all great leaders are driven by vision, that it keeps you focused and fueled. But, he cautioned, if the leader isn’t passionate no one else will be either. Vision is what creates that passion.

Here’s another thought that will cause a lot of people to blanch: Vision is more important than creativity.

I’ve heard every reason imaginable for why vision isn’t important, but creativity is. Unfortunately, creativity without vision is like an engine without fuel. You might be able to crank it over by hand, but it will never keep running, and certainly won’t get you anywhere. There’s no ignition. I appreciate creativity, but I appreciate innovation that comes from a clear vision even more.

Let’s move past the fact that truly creative people are, by their nature, dreamers and visionaries. Vision is as simple as knowing what it will look like when you achieve your goals. It’s what will set you apart and drive your entire organization. Here’s an example Steve a Jobs used in an interview:

We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”

Pretty good sense of vision, wouldn’t you say? One that every person at Apple could understand and see in their minds. One that focused the whole organization on the same future.

As I read in my Bible the other day, “Without vision the people will perish.” Putting it that way creates an interesting choice – vision or perish. I know what I choose.