A rich man once walked into a travel agency and made the following request: “Please send me somewhere special. Money is no object.” The agent simply replied: “Please tell me where you would like to go, sir. Without a clear destination I simply cannot help you.”
Having goals lets you know where you are going in life. Research shows that 50 per cent of those around us have no idea where they are going. Another 40 per cent will go in any direction they are led. The remaining 10 per cent know where they would like to go but fewer than half of them are prepared to pay the price to get them there.
Vision is the elixir of a creative life. It is the reason that wakes us up each and every morning, and keeps our minds and spirits engaged. In Jewish Talmudic belief, life is but a corridor that prepares us for the living room of eternity. I think that vision is the flashlight that guides us along that corridor. It is also my belief that the corridor is horizontal, not vertical – it makes the preparation much more tenuous, as you can go either up/progress or down/regress. I like that thought very much, this temporal waltz between creator and creation that continues to engage in its harmonious swirls beyond the here and now.
But what is vision? It is the essence of destiny, an inner compass that highlights the road ahead, hope and fear wrestling through time and space for an outcome, a discovery, an adventure. On a recent trip to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, my eyes were drawn towards the immensity of the sea, and I became mentally challenged by the line that separates the sea from the sky, that boundary we call “the horizon”. As my mind began to wander, I suddenly realised that if I wanted to see beyond the horizon, I needed to go higher, to lift my feet off the ground.
People often believe that change begins in the mind, that we can think our way into a new way of living. However, what we think tends to remain in our mind and vision becomes reduced to a mere dream, a fantasy. A cynic is a frustrated person, someone who is incapable of getting their ideas outside of their own mind. I prefer the view that rather than thinking our way into a possible new life, we should live ourselves into a new way of thinking.
Mystics believe that vision is a false interpretation of the future, that it is already inside our world, in the present, and all that remains is to be discovered. A visionary is therefore someone who looks for hidden treasures, discovers, and releases them into our physical realm. Steve Jobs did not invent the telephone, nor did he invent the watch. He saw a new way of utilising what was then and turned it into what is now, the iPhone. Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and Louis Pasteur discovered penicillin, but gravity has been there since the beginning of time.
At Eversys, our founders had a vision to develop an automatic espresso machine that could rival traditional equipment for quality. What they did was to rethink and re-engineer age-old traditions of grinding and brewing, and modernise the heart and face of the machines. But the question beckons, where to next? Are visions short-lived, or do they acquire a life of their own and continue their journey forward? My belief is that visions are developed by people, not companies. But like all things in nature, visions must be continually fed in order to prosper. At Eversys, we spend time glancing over the horizon, imagining and discovering the next great thing – and we have very tall mountains in Switzerland.
Your question might be whether or not you are capable of vision. In my opinion, everyone is, and they must have one. No two visions are alike in either size or scope. However, all visions are valid, legitimate aspirations that enable us to not only influence but control our destinies. An aimless person is easy to manipulate but a person of vision is a formidable force. One of the dangers associated with vision is that sometimes, visionaries are gifted with severe myopia when it comes to risk. So, believe in greatness but walk wisely.
Today, people often confuse vision with success. Young people want to become famous but the problem with fame is that if and when you get there, it may not bring the expected fulfilment or joy that nourishes, but rather leave you empty instead. To be famous sometimes requires neither vision nor talent, just a nice face and a fun personality. Riding the wave of another’s vision, regardless of its height, often brings you crashing into your own reality. Wealth and fame without wisdom is but a recipe for greater suffering.
I work with young adults, and I often tell them that success in life is about two things only: finding your voice, and using it. It sounds rather simple but for some, it can be extremely difficult. Obstacles such as fear, lack of self-esteem, or abuse, stand in the way of clarity, so those aggregated layers of self-destruction must first be eradicated prior to considering embracing vision. It is like an old wall in need of redecoration. It must first be stripped back to its core, treated and only then embellished. If the work, rather than being in-depth, just deals with shallow cosmetics, the change will be ephemerous and will not stand the test of time, leading to greater frustration.
So how do we find our voice? Make an appointment with yourself without an agenda. Immerse yourself in silence and let your mind wander. You will be surprised at the ideas that creep out of your subconscious into your conscious self. Allow them to wander free, nurture them, write them down, discuss them with trusted ones. As they become words, they begin to be shaped into reality and develop a life of their own. This is what I mean about living in a new way of thinking.
Do you know the difference between a visionary and a dreamer? A visionary has a plan and the courage to implement it. A dreamer wallows endlessly within the confines of his mind and eventually becomes a cynic out of frustration, criticising the efforts of those who try to maintain relevance and identity, even if merely fictitious. As the visionary begins their climb into orbit, the dreamer is left behind with their broken dreams and the sudden exposure to their own impotence.
As the famous philosopher Carl Jung once said: “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakes.”