ON YOUR MARK…GET SET…
When I was a kid, the 40-yard dash was my favorite field day event. I loved it because I found it pretty easy to collect blue ribbons.
Nevertheless, my elementary school days were an apprehensive transition for me, after moving from St. Thomas to the mainland United States. But I felt comfortable and confident lining up at the starting line for this short sprint.
I would look at the kids to my right and to my left and think, “Get ready to eat my dust!”
And that was true… until that one race that will remain burned in my memory forever.
When the horn sounded that day, I surged to the front as usual. I could feel the wind on my face and my ego billowing in the breeze behind me like a celebrity dress at the MET Gala.
About 20 yards into the dash, I heard something else: someone was catching up, just off my shoulder. The sound was so rare in my experience that I didn’t know how to react.
At the 30-yard line, the kid was closer.
The 32-yard line…even closer!
“This is bonkers,” I thought. “Who is this?!”
Five yards before crossing the finish line, my curiosity reached its climax. As I glanced over to identify my competition, we both crossed the finish line.
The race was over. And, for the first time in my adolescent track & field career…I lost. He beat me by a hair.
I tell this story often because of the important life lesson my mother impressed on me afterward.
Amidst my heart rate slowly declining, my breathing becoming more composed, and resisting the tears welling up in my eyes, my mother asked, “You know why you lost that race, don’t you?”
My bruised 10-year-old ego and I did NOT have an answer.
“It’s because you lost your focus,” she said. “You got distracted by what was around you instead of crossing the finish line.”
In the race of life, vision is a part of how you maintain your focus — all the way across the finish line. Vision can turn vague ideas into motivation. It becomes your North Star when the path gets hazy.
With this in mind, the power of vision is the difference between achieving your goals and missing the mark by a hair… or by a mile.
Clear-ifying Your Vision
I define vision as more than setting goals. You can have the goal of becoming the greatest runner of all time. However, without a vision for how you’re going to accomplish that goal, all you have is a nice idea.
Recently, I came across a social media post by five-time Grammy Award Winning American hip hop and R&B artist, CeeLo Green that read:
“I respect anybody who’s pulled an idea out of their brain and fully brought it to life. That sh*t is spiritual. To know that it started as a thought, and you brought it to fruition is crazy. Shout out [to] the ones who see it all the way through. Keep creating.”
Unfortunately, I gave up being a track and field champion many years ago. When I first started taking classes in college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or my path in life. Additionally, I discuss finding your path and identifying your gift in my blog The Struggle Is Real
In time, my vision came into focus. I want to be a great and impactful host. I want to be so talented that kids tell their parents, “When I grow up, I want to be a host like Ryan Seacrest, Marc Summers… and Aaron Smalls.”
Providing clarity for your goals is the power of vision. I call this process Clear-ifying Your Vision.
As can be seen, in his book “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek writes, “All leaders must have two things: they must have a vision of the world that does not exist, and they must have the ability to communicate it.”
Consequently, if you don’t have a clear vision, you can’t act on it. The power of vision isn’t there for you to reach your goals. The more detail you can envision, the more focused and the more powerful the vision becomes.
Feel The Lightsaber!
The best actors can create these entire imaginary worlds because of their vision. They flesh out their character and they’ve done their homework. And they’ve employed all their senses.
When I’m acting out a scene, I’ve got to imagine everything — beyond what’s in front of me. I want to imagine what it would be like to physically touch something. I want to hear what’s happening around me. What do I smell and taste in the air?
If I lift a prop that’s supposed to be a lightsaber, I can’t let the plastic dictate how I hold it. I have to imagine its “real” weight. Moreover, I visualize specifically about its temperature, texture, and the object’s resistance on my finger(s) and in my hand.
Every sensory experience helps create an elaborate vision in my mind for what it is. The clearer that vision is, the better I’m able to act out the scene.
Similarly, this is true for creating a vision for life goals. Vision is more than what you literally see in the future. To accomplish a goal, all your senses must be a part of your vision.
Create a Life-Sized Vision Board
I’ll give you a simple example.
When I bought my very first LED TV in 2009, I went to Best Buy every day for a month. I picked out the model that I wanted. I decided on the features and the size — everything.
Every day, I stared at it, because it was a $1,400 TV. It was going to be the most expensive thing that I’d ever bought for myself. To accomplish that huge goal, I had to stay focused and keep saving money.
These days, I like to go to car dealerships — the extravagant ones. One day, I want to own an Audi R8 performance Coupe Quattro in Mythos Black Metallic. Presently, I window shop and sit in expensive cars. Just being around the car I want helps me envision myself owning it.
That’s why people create dream boards or stick Post-It’s with affirmations around the mirror of their bathroom. Keeping the vision in front of you helps you stay focused on your goal.
Be The Elephant Eater!
In “No Acting Please,” Eric Morris says, “Ignorance of what to work on leads to the avoidance of work altogether.”
You have to see it…want it…and be focused on it. And you have to take those steps and put in that dedicated work to get there. That’s where you’ll find the power of vision.
The process is the same for ambitious visions as it is for smaller ones. Ambitious goals may involve more steps. But you’re still going to get there if you’re taking action and doing the work.
There’s that saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
I have no idea why that’s a quote (or who’s eating elephants). But the concept is good. Goals happen one small piece at a time.
Get Started… Now!
If you don’t have a vision, start now. Go get a pen and paper.
Right now. I’ll wait…
First, craft your vision by defining your goal. Allow yourself to think BIG. Don’t stop brainstorming until you land on an idea that fills you with energy and joy and terrifies you.
Then, consider the following questions. As you do, think of your future self in the present tense.
- How does the world look different now that you’ve accomplished your goals?
- How are you different?
- What new skills do you possess?
- How has your network expanded to accommodate your vision?
- What resources did you need to get from where you were to your new reality?
Be careful what you do with the power of vision. Small shifts in your focus can have a significant impact on how and when you cross the “finish line”.
Tighten those laces. Focus on your goals. And enjoy the race!