When I put up a post on Facebook asking my friends what they thought a “Vision Designer” would do almost all of the responses I got mentioned glasses, or eyesight.
While their intentions were clearly humorous, their responses made me realize that one reason that so many people have trouble embracing the idea of an intentional vision for focusing their work and goals may be that the word “vision” has multiple, seemingly contradictory, meanings.
Most commonly vision describes what it is that we actually see—the optical scope of the world that surrounds us. It’s worth pointing out that we don’t actually process most of what it is that our eyes perceive. We constantly (and intentionally) limit our visual input, rarely allowing ourselves to fully accept what it is that we see with our own two eyes—especially when we’re in dense environments.
As an experiment to understand what I’m talking about, next time you’re standing on a busy street, stop for a moment and try and fully process just how much is going on around you.
Now try to hone down your experience to just perceiving the text in your environment. You may quickly begin to see that it’s not just storefronts and street signs that are covered with letters, but t-shirts, license plates, and logos on everything. Even at its most fundamental level, the depth of our vision far outstrips our ability to process the information that we’re able to gather in every instant.
If processing all of reality wasn’t enough for a single word, “vision” describes our ability to conceive of (and examine) things that don’t actually exist in our world. And there’s even two meanings for that definition: some visions are powerful spiritual sights that terrify and overwhelm us. They come to our thoughts from other worlds and spiritual dimensions, and our ability to process and effectively convey these mystical revelations to others is what separates the mystics from mad-persons.
And there’s still another meaning of the word vision, one that specifically deals with an outcome that we craft with *intention*. This is the vision we craft ourselves, an intention that inspires and motivate us. It’s a vision that we have we can build and put into service along with our desire to change the world around us in a particular way . It’s what I refer to as part of your active vision, and we create it by combining our insight with our perception of the world around us, revealing a path for transforming the concepts in our imagination into things that exist in the real world.
One reason that I think many people resist forging their own active vision is that the line between the spiritual and the imagined is thinner than we like to admit. We live in a world with cars, buildings, and flying machines—these all things that had to be realized in someone’s mind long before they could be in, over, or around our cities. Where did those ideas come from? What is it within ourselves that told us we could fly?
When we first try to embrace our inspiration it can overwhelm us. We often try to defend ourselves from its transformative power by claiming that we’re grounded or *realistic*. But the ability to find faith in our imagination is fundamental to success. Attempting to lock down or deny that aspect of ourselves not only limits us, but actually weakens our ability to process what’s going on all around us. A well-crafted vision can works as a filter to help us choose what it is that we react to.
That’s why designing your vision is so important. Instead of trying to “turn off” that creative, imaginative part of your brain that’s longing to have an impact on the world, you can focus it to design and build a powerful experience that will satisfy some of the fundamental desires that we all have.
In fact, if you look at the most influential people in the world, it’s the belief in their vision that gives them the strength to move forward, even though the world constantly throws obstacles in their way. A true visionary wakes up every day with the belief that they are getting one step closer to making their dreams come true. They may not have a map, but they have a compass to point them in the right direction.
Engaging with what it is we want can be a bit frightening, because going after something also means that you may not get it. Choosing to try and make something happen also means defining the set of challenges that you’ll need to overcome in order to reach those goals.
Having the ability to call up a positive and motivating intention about your future gives you direction in a world that hums with distractions. Your active vision can act as true north on your personal map of experience, giving you a direction to head for despite the dizzying storm of unexpected events (good and bad) that rages all around us, and distracts us from our goals.
Can you think of a good title for someone who helps people define their intentional vision? Vision coach? Vision Consultant? Intentionary? Map maker?