Today is November 14 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you work on developing your vision?” People who navigate the chaos know they must constantly work on creating a vision for both their personal growth and professional development. As the adage reads “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.”
As with so many of the Navigate the Chaos posts, nuance plays a role in today’s reflection. Vision is indeed important; but vision, or vision boards, without a bias towards action will most likely not help you navigate the chaos. As discussed throughout this series, have as many dreams as you need two lifetimes to achieve them: but always be working on translating one or more into reality. Otherwise, your dreams are just that, a dream. A vision without action is just that, a thought. What good are thoughts, visions, and dreams without execution?
Legend has it that on November 21, 1783, Benjamin Franklin watched as the first manned hot-air balloon rose from the ground. A skeptic in the crowd called out, "What is the use of it?" And Franklin is said to have replied, "What is the use of a newborn child?" He had a vision of humanity not as it was but as it could be. And he understood that from each new height a new horizon comes into view. But vision alone is not enough to translate one dream after another into reality. People who learn to navigate the chaos like Michael Bloomberg and Steve Case understand the value of developing a vision and figuring out how to execute upon it; even if it means no one else sees it at first.
As Bloomberg recalled in an interview:
“I was fired from Salomon Brothers in 1981 in part because no one at the firm thought much of my idea for computerizing financial data and analysis and presenting it in real time. Back then, most financial professionals didn't know how to use a computer, much less have one on their desk. Organizations resist innovation and those that do inevitably fail because people are more comfortable with what they know than with what they don't. Looking beyond the horizon and taking risks have always been a core part of our company's culture, which we brought to New York's city hall and worked hard to spread throughout city government. In both the public and private sectors, innovation requires hiring smart, creative, and driven people, empowering them to take risks and standing behind them -- in a public way -- when things don't go as hoped. The biggest management failures in both business and government are not missed targets but missed opportunities.” Much like Bloomberg, Steve Case realized the necessity of vision to navigate the chaos of the business world.
In a May 4, 2013, interview Steve Case, Chief Executive Office of Revolution, an investment firm, discussed the concept of vision with Adam Bryant of The New York Times and said, “A Thomas Edison quote summarizes my perspective on things, which is, ‘Vision without execution is hallucination.’ I do believe in vision. I do believe in big ideas. I do believe in tackling problems that are complex and fighting battles that are worth fighting, and also trying to, in my case, create companies or back companies. That can change the world. The vision thing is really important — but the execution thing is really important, too. Having a good idea is not enough. You’ve got to figure out some way to balance that and complement that with great execution, which ultimately is people and priorities and things like that. You have to strike the right balance. If you have those together, I think anything is possible. If you don’t have both of them working together in a complementary, cohesive way, you’re not going to be successful.”
Both Bloomberg and Case understood the power of vision, but they also recognized, in the words of Edison, ‘vision without execution is hallucination.’
How often do you work on developing your vision and the execution needed to see it come to fruition?
Do you find yourself creating one vision board after another without ever really accomplishing anything?
How often do you reflect upon the balance between vision and execution?
Do you realize that just having a good idea is not enough?
If you struggle with creating a vision, why do you think that is?
What small step can you take today to both create a vision and work towards it?