The most influential people in history are people that had, or have, enormous vision. They are people that saw what they desired their legacy to be and put in the work to walk towards that, no matter the distance. They are people that we look up to, are inspired by, and want to mirror. People of great influence were not born with any more talent or ability than you, the only thing that sets them apart is their determination to see their vision become their reality. In it’s most simple form of definition, your vision is what you want to accomplish with your life. Your vision is what you see when you imagine your most meaningful future. Helen Keller famously quoted, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Many of us would recognize Martin Luther King Jr. as a man with a vision that, quite literally, changed the future of an entire nation. But what does it actually take to not only determine what your vision is, but to walk towards it so boldly that your life, and the lives around you, are forever changed?
The story of Dr. King, as he was later called, usually picks up right around the time that he became nationally recognized as an influential subject in the fight to end racial injustice. What many of us aren’t aware of are the years of tedious work that King pushed through before ever being recognized. We don’t think about Dr. King as a newspaper delivery boy working long hours for very minimal pay. And we don’t think of him as the small town pastor that he was for many years before he became the leader that we remember him as today.
Having vision is taking the bird's-eye view of your life and deciding what you want it to look like overall. Your vision is expansive, large, undetailed, and full of passion. You may be wondering where to start on this journey of determining your vision. Start with discovering the answers to these questions:
What would bring me meaning and significance?
Push aside the idea of what you should be doing, and focus on what you desire to be doing. Is there a cause that you wish to be a part of? Do you crave to be home with your kid’s more than you are? Does the thought of going back to school excite you? Even if what you desire doesn’t make clear sense to you right now, your desires point you towards your vision. Write them down unedited and think upon them. Your vision doesn’t mean accomplishing certain goals by a certain date, your vision is what gives your life meaning.
What causes me to feel significant now?
Look at the things that take up your time and ask yourself what significance they bring to you. The significance we are speaking of here is how you make meaning out of the world. If you find that the majority of your time is spent doing things that don’t bring you meaning, now is the time to re-shape your life step by step. Don’t be overwhelmed by that thought, be energized by it! You’re beginning to uncover what matters to you.
Who do I admire?
Who do you find yourself being inspired by? Perhaps it’s a public figure, or a neighbor, or spouse, or a friend. Whomever it is, learn their story. Everyone, and I mean everyone, that has influence has walked their own path that looked dull for a time. Similarly to Dr. King, we will all walk through parts of our own stories that seem arduous and unending while making our way towards our vision. Legacies take a lifetime to unfold.
It wasn’t until towards the end of his journey that Dr. King made his famous “I Have A Dream Speech.” We will never see our vision fulfilled until we continue down the path that may seem unending for a time. Remember that your vision is designed to give you meaning and your goals are designed to direct you towards that meaning. Dr. William Larkin said, “Goals are doorways to vision and that vision sometimes takes some time to unfold and navigate itself where it wants to go.”
So, create specific goals that guide you closer towards your vision.
As a career management coach it would be easy to point people towards a job that seems to fit them on paper. But I want to help you find your vision, create your goals, and walk towards that legacy with you. My vision is that we pursue your vision together, not only in your career but in every corner of your life.
We’re in this together!