Driving to spring training in Florida, the famous baseball player and manager Yogi Berra and his wife were terribly late. They were driving all night and Yogi’s wife fell fast asleep. To make up for lost time, Yogi took a short cut that eventually turned into a dirt road with more dirt than road. His wife suddenly awoke, very startled and said to Yogi, “Honey. I think we are lost.” Yogi always ready with a quick quip, replied, “Yeah but we are making great time”.
Without vision, you may get somewhere, but most likely it will be the somewhere you don’t want. Vision guides your destiny. It did for Gary Player. As a young lad growing up in South Africa, Gary had the vision of his greatness. Gary would stand in front of a mirror and say over and over “You are going to be one of the greatest players of all time”. Gary Player’s vision shined very brightly, and guided him to become one of the greatest golfers of the 20th century.
Vision can create our end point-even if one does not currently exist. When Tommy Burnett entered University of Virginia in 1993, he declared to his professor that his vision was to be a special effects expert on a Star Wars movie. Unfortunately for him, the last Star Wars movie was made ten years earlier.
Given that predicament, most people would choose another direction-Not Tommy. He had a vision of bringing to life his favorite science fiction characters on the silver screen and making them appear real. He read everything he could get his hands on regarding how to create special effects and how to program these effects. He became an expert on a new computer programming language called Python.
Fortunately, Industrial light and Magic, the company owed by George Lucas which creates Star Wars movies, needed someone who knew Python. Tommy was their man and was hired to develop special effects for the Star War movies in 1999, 2002, and 2003. Tommy’s vision created his destiny.
Our vision is our light. We all need this light-in a sense, it is a survival mechanism. Psychologists discovered that when mice were placed into a tub with no way out, they would stop swimming after 45 minutes and drown. However, if the mice had a light shining upon them, they would continue to swim for 36 hours. The mice were motivated through the darkness by a vision of light.
Vision guided Christopher Reeves throughout his darkest hours-his vision was the light at the end of his tragic tunnel. Christopher Reeves rise to fame was fierce, propelling him to the top of the Hollywood game in the 1970’s. Then tragedy struck. During an equestrian competition, his horse threw Reeves who landed on his neck, His injury was so severe that he was paralyzed from the neck down. But Reeves had a vision that would guide him through the next ten years-at his forty-third birthday party he announced that he would stand up and make a cheer at his 50th.
This vision propelled him across the globe, making countless speeches and pleads for money for spinal cord research. He was dedicated to find a cure. Unfortunately, this vision did not come to fruition, and he did not stand to toast his friends on any birthday following the accident. Sadder was his death at the age of 52 of a heart attack. However, his memory and his vision still guide his foundation to find a cure in the future.
In his book, Power of Purpose, Dick Leider interviewed hundreds of people in their seventies and eighties. He asked them two simple questions: “if you could live your life over again, what would you change?” and “What is the wisdom that you would pass on?”
One of the most frequent answers given was that they would have had a better vision for their life’s direction and that this vision would have made a difference.
Those answers from our elders send a clear cut message-Find a vision for your life that has meaning. According to the ancient philosopher Seneca, when a man does not know what harbor he is sailing for, no wind is the right wind. Zig Ziglar, a present day motivational guru, has noted that the happiest people he knows are those who are working toward a vision whereas the most bored and miserable people are drifting along with no worthwhile objectives in mind. They sail with any wind.
The issue with vision is twofold; First, many people do not know their true vision, and second, their career choices are not in line with their true vision. Becoming aware of your true vision and having that vision aligned with your career may be the most difficult task a person can accomplish, but it is essential. The following drills will help:
Don’t wait for your mortality sandwich:
Deborah Winger called it “a mortality sandwich”. When she was young, she had planned to be a researcher for criminal investigations. As Winger describes it-she wanted to be an investigator just like in the show CSI. Then she had a terrible but fortuitous accident with a truck. It was an accident in which she had a clear look at her mortality. This situation made her change directions and follow her true vision-to be an actress. And as we know, she has had a incredible career, starring in such megahits as An Officer and a Gentleman, Urban Cowboy, and Terms of Endearment.
Don’t wait for your mortality sandwich. Eat life up!
Aligning your career with your vision
Finding a better direction was easy for John Sculley. When Steve Jobs was looking for a man to hold the helm and steer his new company, Apple, he approached Sculley. At that time, Sculley was president of Pepsico and had a wonderful career. However Steve Jobs approached him and asked him if he wanted to make sugar water all his life or change the world-the choice was easy for Sculley. He wanted to make a meaningful difference, so he left and joined Apple so that he could help change the world.
Are you struggling to align your career with your vision?
The first step is to create a purpose statement. A purpose statement is a vision about what we believe will give meaning to you life.
To develop an effective purpose statement, here are a few questions to guide you:
- Who do you admire and why?
- What have been some great contributions to our world?
- What do you see as meaningful?
- What significant contributions would you like to make to the world?
The next step is to list your values. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “I do not want to have the finer things in life-All I want to leave behind is a committed life. King valued a committed life, a life dedicated to changing human rights.
What do you value most? These may include money, civil rights, creating a useful product, helping the homeless, or other values such as creating a better world and/or better environment for our children. List 10 of your key values.
Now here is the kicker. Pick 2 or 3 careers (or different jobs within your current career path) that you think are in line with your true vision. Write a persuasive paragraph for each career, as you would be writing to a friend, and tell this friend how your purpose statement and values are aligned with this particular career.
The paragraphs that are a difficult write-that is, the careers that had to be bent and pushed to fit into your statement and values, are probably not a good choice. This career choice is out of sync with your true vision. On the other hand, the paragraph that was the easiest write-the one that was the best fit for your purpose and values, will be the correct choice and a step toward following your vision.
Henry David Thoreau once stated, “We only hit what we aim at”. I would add-We need to know where to aim-this chapter will point you in the right direction.
The following article was exerpted from the Full Throttle: 122 Strategies to Supercharge your Performance at Work. This book is a Washington Post Best Seller.
Dr.Gregg Steinberg is a sport psychologist to many professional athletes, motivational speaker, business keynote speaker and leadership trainer and sales trainer. To see more about mental toughness strategies and going Full throttle in your sales, business and life, go to www.drgreggsteinberg.com and see his new book, Full Throttle on amazon.com. To see more about his coaching go to http://tinyurl.com/yemlfs8 and to see his products go to http://tinyurl.com/yjk5q6x