Ideas have a way of coming to us. I don’t know exactly how it works, but we all know the experience. They come to us in dreams, on bus rides, in the shower, during a run, etc. And as they come, we go through a process of identifying and evaluating them. And whenever we get a winner, there is a pleasurable response, an excitement.
Naturally, we want to keep that good feeling going. We want to keep the idea alive. Like starting a fire when you’re stranded on an island, we’re occupied with finding fuel so that the fire doesn’t burn out. Because who knows if we can light another fire again? Who knows when – or if – the next good idea will come?
And how do we get that fuel? From other people. We feed off of their responses, off of their feedback. So we share our ideas in the hopes of stirring up excitement. Another term for this is called “Vision Casting”.
Vision casting is not a bad thing in and of itself. There’s a place to share ideas and stir up excitement. But I know from experience that it can be a destructive thing as well. I’ve been on both sides of the destruction.
I have a dear friend who spent time caring for orphans in Mozambique. He paints a troubling picture of the image of the father in Mozambican families. He told me that the father is known as someone who plants a seed, but does not care for it or nurture it. He fathers a child, and departs from the home.
Innovation vs. Maintenance
Our world today is hungry for innovation, for change. The technological advances of recent decades have set things up for new idea after to new idea to come along. This creates a culture for people to tout their innovations and reap credit.
And sometimes, only sometimes, these good ideas become a reality. These innovations get implemented. And this comes with the need for innovation’s less-attractive sibling: Maintenance.
We praise the innovators, while the maintainers labor on in obscurity. They’re the people who we tend to acknowledge only when they stop working. And then it’s usually done only with complaints, not with praise.
The excellent article “Hail the Maintainers” by Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel explains this nicely:
Innovation provided a way to celebrate the accomplishments of a high-tech age without expecting too much from them in the way of moral and social improvement.
Innovation is praised over maintenance. And vision-casting is praised over doing the work.
Getting High With a Little Help From Your Friends
We all want to plant seeds. It’s relatively quick and easy work, and it comes with the idea of a better future.
When we cast vision to others, we’re selling them on our idea. We’re planting a seed in them. That seed grows inside of them into that idea. The idea tells a story. The story evokes emotion. The emotion causes physiological changes in their bodies. A pleasurable response, an excitement.
But often, that’s all we’re doing. We’re getting ourselves and others “high” on a new idea. What happens when we come down from that high?
3 Essential Things for Vision-Casting
If you care for the people you’re talking to beyond just giving them a pleasurable moment, then you have a greater responsibility. You need to care for them with the kind of love that a father should care for the recipient of his seed.
Otherwise you’re just another deadbeat dad. (And I know this from experience.)
Here are three essential things that any vision-casting needs for it to be responsible:
- Your service: it is your responsibility to clearly communicate the unique way in which you can serve the people you’re talking to. It needs to be credible as well, you need a proven track record. This isn’t that hard to do. But you may be disappointed to realize that the way you want to serve is different than the way that you are able to serve. Err on the side of caution here, or you risk hurting others.
- A clear and simple milestone: if you want to build a house, you need to show others that you can get the plans done. You need to show them you can build the foundation. You need to show them that you can build the frame. Find the first milestone that reflects your vision, and sell people on that. But also make sure this milestone is still challenging and essential for your involvement (and that of the team).
- The next step: and no, you don’t want the excitement to fizzle out. Help others by sharing the next step that you will do, and that you would have them do, to keep the party going.
We tend to cash in on long-term vision before the work even begins. When we do this, the small victories don’t get celebrated. In fact they’re seen more like disappointments. And that’s tragic. We don’t celebrate enough because we don’t value the small steps and the people who reached them. Those maintainers who are indispensable to the process.
Vision-Casting for Dummies
So when do we cast vision? There are certain people in your life that are meant to be with you for as long as, or longer than, your awesome idea. They may even carry it on after you’re gone from this Earth.
These are wives, husbands, and children. Family. Cast vision to these people. Do it often. Keep the party going.
We’re Not Idiots
If you have a product or service to offer, if you want to see a change in the world, or if you have art to share – do it in service to others. Clarify it, enhance their benefit, make it easy for them to understand it and engage with it.
Be cautious about casting long-term vision. Instead, prove you can do the short-term goals. Show people the change you want to see in the world, one change at a time, and they will reach the idea on their own. ‘Cause people aren’t idiots.
Do you have an awesome vision? I hope so. Can you think of one short-term milestone that reflects it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!