Create a Vision With Staying Power - Part 2

There are three elements of a compelling vision. In my last blog post, I discussed the first element – having a significant purpose. The second element of a compelling vision is a clear picture of the future.

There is tremendous power in holding a picture in your mind of what you intend to create.



I first became aware of the power of holding a picture of what you want to create after the 1976 Olympics. The Russians walked away with almost all of the gold medals, and people were wondering how they did it. We discovered that they were using a technique called “mental rehearsal” where they imagined practicing the race. I was very curious about this and got interested in visualization.

Around the same time, I was teaching children with learning disabilities. These were 10 year-old kids who had experienced years of failure in learning to read and were quite frustrated. One day it occurred to me that they probably couldn’t even imagine themselves reading. Despite all the techniques I was using, if they couldn’t imagine themselves reading, no wonder it was so hard.

So I started a little experiment where I had them close their eyes for 10 minutes each day while I took them through a guided imagery. I started the year with having them imagine that they were walking into the library, just enjoying looking at picture books and feeling comfortable in the library. Over the year, I gradually added in reading words. By the end of year, I had them imagine they were reading long books with no pictures and enjoying it.

Their attitude really changed. You could see that they felt so much more comfortable, and teaching became more fun. I believe they actually learned more that year.

Vision is a very clear picture that you can see in your mind. It’s more than just positive thinking.

As techniques in mental imagery became more sophisticated, sports psychologists discovered that although mental rehearsal was helpful, the real power was in having the athletes imagine they were standing on the podium receiving the gold medal.

It’s not possible to map out the entire journey. Hold your picture of the destination, the end-result you desire. The process for getting there will become more clear as you proceed.

Vision is a clearly articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It is a dream with direction.

8 comments to Create a Vision With Staying Power – Part 2

  • Jesse, thanks for this wonderful story of the children learning. I absolutely believe in visualization as an effective technique and have experienced its success personally. However, despite that knowledge, I forget the power of it and don’t use it nearly as much as I could or should. I so appreciate this reminder. Thank you for re-energizing me in this effort.

    • Hi Robin, Thanks for your comments. Glad my post reminded you. There is tremendous power in visualizing a picture of the result you intend to create, whether it is for a vision or even just a goal.

      Once, after a presentation, an attractive woman came up to me and told me that she had lost over 50 lbs in the past year. Of course she had dieted, but she was able to maintain her diet because she purchased a pair of blue jeans in the size she wanted to be and hung them in her bedroom. Every night she imagined what she would look like wearing those jeans. Her story made me realize how much easier it is to focus on the picture of what you want to create, rather than on the food she was being deprived of.

      A caveat: we can get into trouble if we visualize too many of the details because we can lose the sight of the forest in the midst of the trees. One might hold a picture of the kind of relationship they want to have, but it’s a mistake to visualize being in a relationship with a particular person because you might be wrong about what’s possible with that person.

  • Hi Jesse, In the world of solution focus we use a small scale version of visioning. It’s called the miracle question and it’s very powerful. It was formulated by Steve de Shazer.
    “Suppose…. that you leave here today and go home and finish your day…and go to bed…..
    And while you’re asleep…..a miracle happens…. and the problems that brought you here have vanished or things are how you want them to be or you have achieved what you want to achieve….But you’re asleep, so you don’t know the miracle has happened…..
    When you wake up tomorrow, what will be the first signs that let you know the miracle has happened…..?’’
    This disassociative technique is designed to get the person or team to describe what would be happening instead of the problems they face. It works well because of the last line – it gets them started.

    • Excellent activity! Much thanks for sharing it here Alan.

      What makes this work so well is the question you ask: “what are the signs that show a miracle has occurred?” Asking “what would you see?” forces them to focus on the end result. Not only does it steer them away from the problems, it also steers them away from designing solutions before they are clear about what they really desire to achieve.

      I like your activity because it is a quick way to shift their thinking. A longer activity that I find quite effective in helping to create a shared vision is using a guided imagery like what I did with the children. I do a variation that involves a time machine, where the dial doesn’t have dates but instead says “ideal future.” I have them imagine getting out of the time machine and walking around.

      I prompt it with questions like:
      What are people doing? What activities are they engaged in? What are they saying to each other? How are they interacting with each other? How do they feel about themselves? about others? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How do you feel about yourself? What is the physical environment like? What is the climate like? What is management doing? There’s a meeting, what are people talking about? How are they relating to each other? What is the tone?
      (If they say they are on a Caribbean island, I encourage them to return from their vacation and see what’s happening back home or at work).

      The power in both of our activities comes in the discussion afterward where people see the significance of their dreams and the similarity with others on their team.

    • The Indian Mythology has several stories narrating this micro-visioning”.
      Invariably, someone – normally a ‘common’ human being wishes to aspire for something big (either attaining the state of TOTAL KNOWLEDGE or getting to gain physical access to the DIVINE POWER). However, fulfilment of such a ‘dream’ becomes a reality only when a great amount of ‘focused’, ‘selfless’ penance is practiced. And then suddenly, that ‘dream’ becomes a ‘reality’. The person attains what was aspired.
      The important issue is, What Next?
      To continue the above story, the person then carries on with the ‘regular’ life, enjoying ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ benefits of the realization of the dream.
      Those who enjoy and share with others live saintly or divine life and those who do so for only selfish gains or do so for altering what is considered to be the ‘natural order’ are treated as DEMONs in these stories.
      In short, the conceptualization of ‘dream’, efforts to realize it and then deploying the fruits for the benefits of the society is indeed a subject that can make a person from ‘also-ran’ to the ‘champion’ material.

  • Jason

    A very touching post on the use of visioning with children. While I personally use visioning when-ever I remember, I never thought that it could be used with children to get them used to something, as a conscious practice. It is something to practise in my own life. Thanks.

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