If you search “increase your vision” on the Internet, you’ll find a list of similarly written articles with tips on how to improve your eyesight. Most of them contain such suggestions as:
- Eat for Bright Eyesight
- Exercise Your Eyes
- Get some R&R
Upon reflection, I realized many of these tips also apply to more effectively casting your vision as an effective influencer and leader. Let’s take a deeper look at how you can improve as a vision caster.
Why Improving Vision Casting Is Essential to Leadership and Influence
Leadership author Brian Tracy writes:
The effective leader can project forward 3-5 years and imagine clearly where they want to take the organization and what it will look like when they get there.
Leaders have the ability to articulate this vision in such a way that everyone around them can see and understand where they are going. The individual who maintains a successful leadership role has the ability to articulate an exciting vision of a compelling future that everyone wants to be a part of.
If you cannot paint the picture of where you are going, no one can follow you there. Articulating vision in a way that connects cognitively and is emotionally appealing is the foundational activity of a leader.
“Eat” for Bright Vision Casting
Every article on improving your physical eyesight spoke the importance of having an intake of proper nutrients and vitamins to strengthen the eye. Influence and leadership is no different. You must intake knowledge and wisdom from other great vision casters.
Vision casting requires you to articulate the big picture dream, the proverbial pot of gold that is at the end of the rainbow. The primary means of doing this is through effective communication. The way you learn to more effectively communicate vision is to “eat” at the table of other great visionaries. You must study and observe how they cast vision. Sometimes this can mean working hard to earn time with them in an observational or conversational environment. Perhaps the most fruitful approach is to scheduled time of shadowing a visionary leader followed by a question and answer conversation, where you ask them about their approach to casting vision. At other times, access is more difficult to gain, but you can still glean how to effectively communicate vision by watching them do it in an online video—like studying Steve Jobs product launch videos—or by reading articles and books they have written.
Create a list of visionaries from whom you’d like to learn. Do not forget to include historic political influencers like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Susan B. Anthony. Also include faith-based and cause leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., iconic business leaders such as Iacocca, Gates, and Jobs, and perennial winner-in-athletics vision casters like Phil Jackson and John Wooden.
Note what techniques, including illustrative approaches, metaphor, narratives and other rhetorical and literary tools they utilize to more vividly paint a picture of the vision of dream.
Exercise Your Eyes
Becoming an effective influencer through vision casting takes practice. Just like exercises to improve physical vision must be completed daily, so must exercises to improve organizational vision. Repetition is the key. In the sport of basketball, almost every single practice includes a layup drill of some type or another. The same should be true in your daily activity as a leader of others. Be intentional on how you are going to cast the big picture of what all our efforts are about daily. Vision casting can be woven into a casual conversation, a weekly team meeting, and of course an annual report or strategy session. Use different approaches including storytelling, success stories, analogies, and metaphors as you hone your vision casting effectiveness. Note what worked to motivate others to heroic efforts and what fell flat--keep the best, drop the rest.
By making a concerted and intentional daily effort to vision cast, it will become more natural and second nature for you to do so within every environment you find yourself. I recently heard a comment by famed jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny who required himself to write some form of music everyday to keep him sharp. He spoke of his pianist Lyle Mays, who could write amazingly beautiful pieces on the spot with long period of writing inactivity between. Pat shared that he didn’t have that gift, and few do. Pat said his “amazing moments” came because of the daily discipline of writing some “not so amazing” musical pieces. The daily act of doing it made him more honed. More of us are like Pat than Lyle.
Get Some R&R
For your physical vision, R&R means rest and relaxation.
For the vision caster, it means rest and reflection.
It has been said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” This is especially true in leadership. If you are exhausted, the fog of business will overtake you, slowing down you and your entire organization. In order to be an effective vision caster, you must take time away for personal health. I have observed that the more tired we get, the more we pull our eyes away from the visionary and strategic to focus merely the mundane and tactical.
Every vision article talks about looking away from the computer screen every so often for optimal eye health. This is true for improving your vision casting, as well. Your brain needs time to rest, refresh and reset. This happens when you look away from pressing work to allow a mental escape to something unrelated. Every executive and leader should have a block of vacation scheduled that is of a long enough term that they can unplug mentally. Micro-breaks are important, too, but are in and of themselves insufficient to fully allow us to reset. Calendar your vacation a year in advance and don’t compromise on taking it.
Standing on the top story balcony and looking at the horizon IS the leader’s job. Getting lost in minutia hinders this. When the visionary leader has to focus on tactical level decisions, they are required to leave the top floor and come down to the first or second floor. Much gets done at this level, but you cannot see very far into the distance from those windows. The visionary leader needs to stay as high as possible, communicating and implementing vision. Mid-tier leaders establish strategy, and lower level leaders determine tactics.
Your organization needs you to schedule intentional times of future focused reflection. This is difficult to do in the daily hustle and bustle. This time for reflection does not spontaneously present itself. It WILL require some calendar carving, where you schedule uninterrupted time for uninterrupted time to reflect on the organization’s vision and where you are relative to it in terms of effort and activity. Being consistent with practice helps you correct course, avoiding the deadly drift away from The Why (vision) that should be the motivator driving all efforts.
Resting and reflecting allows you to reengage in a more effective manner for the health of your organization. The exhausted, unfocused leader can do as much damage as good. The focused rested leader can direct world-changing organizations.
By intentionally focusing on learning from other great vision casters, practicing vision casting on a daily basis, and making sure you are resting for self-care and reflecting on organizational vision, you’ll find yourself better able to communicate vision. Better vision casting means more people are able to apply themselves to accomplish the vision. This is positive change and exceptional influencing.