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Vision- Cleaning Your Lens

December 7th, 2011

Dan Zadra wrote an inspiring book called “5; Where Will You Be Five Years From Now?”

It gives some awesome examples of people who have done incredible things in under five years. Columbus discovered the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, and North and South America. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. Shakespeare wrote “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Macbeth”, and five other timeless plays. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went from living in a 500-square foot apartment to a net worth of $10 billion.

As I think about each of these visionaries, I wonder what they saw when they set out? Did they have a five year plan? Did they SEE the end product as they began?

Where do you see yourself in five years? How far does your vision stretch? Vision is all about what you see. It begins with what you see inside yourself (part one in the series). It includes squinting at your own sacred essence (part two in the series). You need to beware of double vision, or di-vision (part four in the series). Two other resources that you might find helpful in relation to vision are this article on vision boarding, and this visualization on your life five years back and five years forward.

Think of what you want for your life, without watering it down with “buts” and “cants”. You have the same number of hours in your day as Jeff Bezos and Shakespeare. You have even greater advantages and technology than they had. And you have their inspiration to drive you forward. Zadra said,

Your resources are always far greater than you imagine them to be. Never ask, “Can I do this?” Ask instead, “How can I do this?”

Why is it easier for some people to think like this than others? What are the blocks that get in the way of possibility thinking? It’s all about the lens through which you see the world. Let me illustrate with a little story about visibility.

I have regular Chevy Chase moments, as my family can testify, the sort of moments that only Dads seem to have; somewhat endearing, mostly annoying and always embarrassing. I had one a few years back when we were driving home from our first weekend skiing in a major blizzard. Visibility was almost nonexistent. I tried everything, from squinting to demisting the windscreen. I even tried sticking my head out the window. I was just about to pull over and wait it out, when I had an idea. I asked one of the kids to hand me a pair of ski goggles. With the goggles on, everything became crystal clear. You have to keep in mind that these weren’t stylish ski goggles. These were old fashioned goggles that covered most of my face. I looked like I was snorkeling. I got some odd looks from people as they drove past, and the kids were cringing in the back seat. But my vision was clear.

Your vision doesn’t have to be pretty, and it doesn’t have to conform to other peoples’ expectations. It just has to be clear. What if your vision is lost in a blizzard like mind fog? It’s sometimes hard to see past the demands of the moment to imagine life in the future. We get so caught up in busyness that our inner vision is like snow static on a TV. There’s no signal getting from your inner vision to your conscious mind.

The first step in clarifying your vision is to check your lens. We all see the world through the lens of our current perspective. If you’re wearing Bond-style night vision goggles, everything looks green. If you’re wearing 3-D glasses, everything looks like you’re in Avatar. If you’re wearing glasses with a cracked lens, everything has a crack in it. If you’re seeing life through a lens of negativity, you will dread the future. Your lens is your worldview. The future you imagine will be colored by your lens, and this is largely a choice. So choose a lens that is generous and full of possibility.

Here are some principles when thinking about vision. (read on for five principles of vision setting)

  1. Vision Points You In A Direction

The late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Holmes was on a train when the conductor came through collecting tickets. Holmes couldn’t find his ticket and became upset. The conductor tried to console him by saying, “Mr. Holmes, don’t worry. When you find your ticket, just mail it in. We trust you.” Mr. Holmes responded in frustration, “My dear man, that’s not my problem. I need my ticket to tell me where I’m going.”

We all need vision to know where we’re going. Like riding on a train, your ticket tells you where you started and where you’re headed. It’s an interesting exercise to mark this moment right now and write a description of where you are. Then write a description of where you WILL be in five years. Look back over your description from time to time to remind yourself how far you’ve come. And let the vision keep you moving forward.

  1. Vision Keeps You Stretching

The English poet, Robert Browning, said

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?

Stand up and try it. Reach up on tippy toes and let the tips of your fingers stretch as high as you can. Once you grasp something, you limit your reach. What is it you’re holding on to that is fogging up your lens with negativity or defeatist feelings? If you want to stretch yourself, you have to release your grasp, release the negative lens or at least clean it. The purpose of vision is to keep you reaching beyond your current understandings and perspectives. Reach beyond any self imposed limitations and beyond societal limitations and stretch towards your highest purpose.

  1. Vision Gets You Unstuck

When life is challenging, it’s easy to get stuck in the fog of the present. You can’t see your way forward. Imagining the future gets you beyond the present circumstances. Imagination is a gift. It’s not psychic. It doesn’t mean that this is definitely the way things will play out. It just reminds you that there is more to come. While you’re imagining the future, why not imagine an exciting future where all your hopes and dreams come to fruition.

  1. Not Outcomes/ Authenticity

Having a vision is not about locking yourself into specific outcomes. It’s not even about outcomes. It’s about being authentic. Imagine a future where you are fully and completely yourself, living the life of your choosing. When you are being authentic, you find yourself surrounded by the right people and all the right resources and your life unfolds in the way it needs to unfold. Authenticity is liberating.

  1. There Is No Failure

When you are being authentic, there is no failure, only feedback. Setbacks may be signals to change direction but being authentic is NEVER the wrong choice. Being authentic involves a lot of trial and error, and not everyone will understand the path you’re on. You have to find out who you are and who you aren’t along the way. If you make authenticity the focus of your vision, the details will work themselves out.

So the question remains, where do you want to be in five years, or one year or even five months? Get clear. Believe in your possibilities. Follow your vision. I end with one of my favorite quotes from Dawn Markova-

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of

falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to

allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid,

more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a

wing, a torch, a promise. I chose to risk my significance;

to live so that which comes to me as seed

goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me

as blossom, goes on as fruit.

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  1. [...] on vision. This is part two. The first piece looks at imagination and finding inner vision. The third piece looks at the lens you wear, and the fourth looks at di-vision and the size of your [...]

  2. [...] authentic vision. The second part describes the vision of squinting at your own sacred source. The third part looks at the lens through which we see the world and how it shapes vision. Part four addresses the [...]

  3. Michaela says:

    This was just what I needed to read.

    Thank you. 

  4. Joel says:

    Thank you for your insightful article.  

  5. I really loved this post. It is so exciting to see the examples of how lives changed in such a short period of five years. Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. Inspiring post, thanks Ian !   What I’ve learned, is that a vision is essential to adding purpose to your life and ultimately meaning. You need to be flexible, but resolute, when impacts in your life, put roadblocks in the way.  

  7. Jack Grabon says:

    Great piece.  Being authentic and seeing everything as feedback is a great way to be. It’s how people like Ben Franklin have become inspiring historical figures.  

    I challenge your statement that “Imagination is a gift. It’s not psychic.” Imagination can be a door through which psychic ability enters. Of course, we have to be open to the possibility that psychic ability is a real phenomenon. There is much evidence of this in research, but I won’t go into that here. Dean Radin’s “The Conscious Universe” is good reading for more information.   

    If we’re closed to psychic ability, it still may come through, but in short spurts or with distortion, appearing as  imagination since that’s what we’d be most comfortable with. Being in touch with psychic ability doesn’t necessarily mean that we will know everything that will happen either, but it can help us clean our lens even more so that we see things much more clearly.

  8. Sasha says:

    Good article, good reminder.. It’s easy to get caught up in life and just let years float on bye..
     

  9. Beth Kindig says:

    Great message…thanks!

  10. Maya says:

    I absolutely love this. I’m a total believer in vision and reaching for where you want to go, instead of getting bogged down by the “practical reality” (ie but I can’t, but I don’t have the money to, but I’m too busy, etc). I often get put down as being too unrealistic, living in a fantasy world, etc just because I believe in putting my vision over things like making a lot of money in the present. It’s inspiring to see others who believe in focusing on the vision as well. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation to keep on looking forward. 

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