I love flying – just as well, as I do a lot of it! When I was a boy, dreaming of wanting to become a pilot, one of my greatest memories was attending an air show, watching pilots go through their pre-flight routines, checking instrumentation and getting weather reports. I would be fascinated at the thrill of observing, through binoculars, large and small aircraft, powering down the runway and into the clear sky, performing their respective manoeuvres for the crowds below. I would be “blown away” with the power of turbo-fan engines revving to maximum thrust as the jet planes accelerated swiftly to glide effortlessly into the air. Flying enthralled me and still does.
What is not seen by regular passengers, however, is the flight plan that every commercial pilot needs to file with air traffic control – where the pilot intends going, confirmation of intended altitude, amount of fuel on board, etc. Without the flight plan correctly submitted, the pilot is not allowed to take off, despite accurately going through all the procedures normal to any pre-flight routine.
A friend of mine, Gerrit Cloete from Productivity Pitstop (www.productivitypitstop.co.za), uses the altitude analogy related to planning and vision – when a plane is taxiing or on the runway and thus having no real altitude, this relates to micro-planning; all the small little steps to getting something done. At an altitude of 5 000 feet, when the plane is still in the climb, one could relate this height to medium term planning, maybe for the next year or two. At cruise altitude, however, let’s say at 30 000 feet, this could relate to a vision for the future, one’s “big picture” for one’s own life. Without this vision, medium-term and micro-planning become next to meaningless, as they are not related to a bigger goal, an ultimate vision that you have for your life.
Having a vision for a fulfilled future is critical for growth. Unless we up and grow our vision, we will probably stay exactly as we are. To raise the quality of our respective experiences of life, we must first establish in our minds a vision for living life at that improved level. It has been stated in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. In spite of the fact that others may even attempt to assist us in visualising a better life, we will ultimately rise or fall to the level of how we see ourselves. William James, a philosopher, said: “We grow as far as our self-image”. It seems to be impossible to advance beyond the picture that we currently have of ourselves unless we manage to invest in that picture a vision of ourselves when our real potential is being realised. This “stretched picture” gives us hope of a better future and imagines ourselves moving forward, ever growing, ever developing. It is in this context of a state of expectation of “becoming” that we can commence setting medium and short term goals. The goals now become related to a vision we have of our future, with consequent motivation to boot.
In developing this future vision, perhaps we could attempt to answer the following questions and then synergistically put the answers together into one combined vision:
- What is my real unique giftedness? How should this shape any future planning?
- What are my strengths? How can I use these in any future vision I might have?
- What are my values? Who do I want to become as a human being?
- How do I currently like applying my energy? Is there any way that I can use this energy in my future vision?
- What would I like my greatest contribution to be in life?
- How do the above answers relate to the other important aspects of my life: family, friends, career, spirituality, etc.?
- In the above, is there any “stretch” that I am potentially missing?
Dr Stephen R Covey said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”. We “create it” by putting in place a stretch vision for our lives and then setting appropriate goals to achieve the vision. Without the vision, we will have nothing for which to aim and no motivation to grow and develop our potential. John Maxwell suggests: “Successful people have a dream that becomes too exciting, too important to remain in the realm of fantasy. Their dream becomes a burning desire”. We need to intentionally plan a fulflled future – as such, our everyday lives will be lived with purpose.
You’re right, Jonathon. We do need to intentionally plan a fulfilled future, to dream and to make those dreams come true. Mastering the skills to manifest this lofty way of living must also be intentional, they don’t just happen. Why is this mastery important? Because life has a way of taking unforeseen 360 degree turns. In the blink of an eye, something happens to forever change the course of our lives in a dramatic way, and our current “fulfilled future plan” is destroyed. But our “fulfilled future” need not be destroyed. Forever forward looking , we march through the fallout, tweaking, adjusting the current plan; or scrapping it and making a new plan–ever striving for that “fulfilled future”, while enjoying the journey along the way.
You are right Cat, but not easy to do. It takes guts and focus to do this right. Having a vision of who you are and who you want to be in the future really helps. Let’s hope that we all enjoy the journey, even if it takes some guts to get through it!