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Three Essential Visioning Skills


by Elizabeth Graff and Christopher Batchelder

11 March 2019



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When is the last time you and your team felt completely energized and in the flow? Excited to leap out of bed every morning? Driven by a higher purpose because you know in your gut that the world urgently needs your work and contributions? The practice of visioning is about rediscovering that drive.

How? By painting a clear and powerful picture of the future you want to create — a future with magnetism so alluring that it develops a pull and a force of its very own!


Three Types of Vision

But vision is not just about creating grandiose ideas of the future. We see visioning as three distinct, but related, skills.

Vision Skill #1: Seeing possibility. This is the ability to create a compelling and detailed picture of the future that you and others are excited to create. It’s about knowing what you want, where you’re going and why. This skill allows you to craft a vision that is future-focused, generative and compelling. To develop this skill, it helps to adopt a curious mindset; suspend your inner critic and really allow yourself to explore possibilities. Seek inspiration from as many sources as possible: other people, academic research, your hobbies, fiction, the arts, history, the natural world, the sciences (hard and soft), your childhood… As you collect inspiration, go for volume; don’t settle early. Brainstorm (and questionstorm!) ideas both obvious and outlandish, in and outside of your comfort zone, easy and hard, feasible and impossible. Use your exploration to clarify your values. What really matters to you? What do you need and how do you want to feel? What change do you want to make? How do you want to be remembered? Compile your inspiration onto a vision board.

Vision Skill #2: Seeing clearly. In order to get to where you want to be, you also need to see what is going on here and now, unclouded by assumptions and judgments. Assessing the current state of affairs accurately sounds simple enough, but it’s harder than most people realize. As author Anais Nin once wrote, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Thus, seeing reality clearly requires self-awareness, a capacity that only 10–15% of us actually possess, according to organizational psychologist and self-awareness researcher Tasha Eurich. To develop the ability to see clearly, try the following strategies: 1) Develop an awareness of the “traps” or “cognitive distortions” in your own thinking patterns by using an app like Moodnotes, which is grounded in evidence-based research from the fields of positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy. 2) Change how you engage in introspection by asking “what” questions (e.g., “What can I do to get along better with my colleague?”) instead of “why” questions (e.g., “Why is it so hard to get along with my colleague?”). 3) Engage in a conversation with your darker emotions. Let them in and ask them what they might want or need. 4) Ask for candid feedback and perspectives from friends, mentors and colleagues whom you trust.

Vision Skill #3: Seeing it through. Once you’ve mastered Skills #1 and #2 and you’ve measured the distance between where you are and where you want to be, it’s time to figure out how to get there. This is where Vision Skill #3 comes in. Skill # 3 is the ability to see your vision through by setting goals and a concrete plan. This skill results in a vision of how you will move toward your desired future state. To develop this skill, you’ll need to draw on some project management skills, plus a heavy dose of accountability. While a full discussion of project management is beyond the scope of this blog post, check out The Management Center’s collection of goals tools and re:Work’s guide on OKRs for inspiration on goal setting. Finally, having an accountability plan is essential. Different strategies work better for different people. Experiment to find what works best for you. For example, you might ask a friend to act as an accountability buddy. Or, use accountability software. (Our team at interstory swears by Asana). Or, gamify your journey with an app like SuperBetter. Or, join an interstory group to find a community that will help you set goals and hold yourself accountable.

If we had to distill this discussion into a single, 80s cartoon-inspired metaphor, Captain Planet wouldn’t be a bad choice. Like Captain Planet, who represents the combined powers of the five Planeteers, the skill of visioning is a composite. While most discussions of vision focus on only seeing possibility, “visioning” is more than knowing where you want to go. Yes, inspiration is importation. But so are reality checks (Skill #2), pragmatism and accountability (Skill #3). To give your vision wings, you also have to be able to see where you’re starting from and how to get to your desired end state. While we’ve artificially broken these three skills out into separate concepts for the sake of explanation and clarity, the reality is that all three skills overlap and work together in harmony.

Stay tuned for our next blog post: Vision Bored? 13 Ways to Breathe New Life Into This Classic Activity!




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interstories



Three Essential Visioning Skills


by Elizabeth Graff and Christopher Batchelder

11 March 2019



Image

When is the last time you and your team felt completely energized and in the flow? Excited to leap out of bed every morning? Driven by a higher purpose because you know in your gut that the world urgently needs your work and contributions? The practice of visioning is about rediscovering that drive.

How? By painting a clear and powerful picture of the future you want to create — a future with magnetism so alluring that it develops a pull and a force of its very own!


Three Types of Vision

But vision is not just about creating grandiose ideas of the future. We see visioning as three distinct, but related, skills.

Vision Skill #1: Seeing possibility. This is the ability to create a compelling and detailed picture of the future that you and others are excited to create. It’s about knowing what you want, where you’re going and why. This skill allows you to craft a vision that is future-focused, generative and compelling. To develop this skill, it helps to adopt a curious mindset; suspend your inner critic and really allow yourself to explore possibilities. Seek inspiration from as many sources as possible: other people, academic research, your hobbies, fiction, the arts, history, the natural world, the sciences (hard and soft), your childhood… As you collect inspiration, go for volume; don’t settle early. Brainstorm (and questionstorm!) ideas both obvious and outlandish, in and outside of your comfort zone, easy and hard, feasible and impossible. Use your exploration to clarify your values. What really matters to you? What do you need and how do you want to feel? What change do you want to make? How do you want to be remembered? Compile your inspiration onto a vision board.

Vision Skill #2: Seeing clearly. In order to get to where you want to be, you also need to see what is going on here and now, unclouded by assumptions and judgments. Assessing the current state of affairs accurately sounds simple enough, but it’s harder than most people realize. As author Anais Nin once wrote, “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Thus, seeing reality clearly requires self-awareness, a capacity that only 10–15% of us actually possess, according to organizational psychologist and self-awareness researcher Tasha Eurich. To develop the ability to see clearly, try the following strategies: 1) Develop an awareness of the “traps” or “cognitive distortions” in your own thinking patterns by using an app like Moodnotes, which is grounded in evidence-based research from the fields of positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy. 2) Change how you engage in introspection by asking “what” questions (e.g., “What can I do to get along better with my colleague?”) instead of “why” questions (e.g., “Why is it so hard to get along with my colleague?”). 3) Engage in a conversation with your darker emotions. Let them in and ask them what they might want or need. 4) Ask for candid feedback and perspectives from friends, mentors and colleagues whom you trust.

Vision Skill #3: Seeing it through. Once you’ve mastered Skills #1 and #2 and you’ve measured the distance between where you are and where you want to be, it’s time to figure out how to get there. This is where Vision Skill #3 comes in. Skill # 3 is the ability to see your vision through by setting goals and a concrete plan. This skill results in a vision of how you will move toward your desired future state. To develop this skill, you’ll need to draw on some project management skills, plus a heavy dose of accountability. While a full discussion of project management is beyond the scope of this blog post, check out The Management Center’s collection of goals tools and re:Work’s guide on OKRs for inspiration on goal setting. Finally, having an accountability plan is essential. Different strategies work better for different people. Experiment to find what works best for you. For example, you might ask a friend to act as an accountability buddy. Or, use accountability software. (Our team at interstory swears by Asana). Or, gamify your journey with an app like SuperBetter. Or, join an interstory group to find a community that will help you set goals and hold yourself accountable.

If we had to distill this discussion into a single, 80s cartoon-inspired metaphor, Captain Planet wouldn’t be a bad choice. Like Captain Planet, who represents the combined powers of the five Planeteers, the skill of visioning is a composite. While most discussions of vision focus on only seeing possibility, “visioning” is more than knowing where you want to go. Yes, inspiration is importation. But so are reality checks (Skill #2), pragmatism and accountability (Skill #3). To give your vision wings, you also have to be able to see where you’re starting from and how to get to your desired end state. While we’ve artificially broken these three skills out into separate concepts for the sake of explanation and clarity, the reality is that all three skills overlap and work together in harmony.

Stay tuned for our next blog post: Vision Bored? 13 Ways to Breathe New Life Into This Classic Activity!