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Productivity / Business plans

Five excuses for a lack of business vision

A successful business vision is the ultimate carrot to steer your life’s work by. It should be aspirational and inspiring. Are you inspired by your business’ current vision? Does it bring tears to your eyes?! If not, read on...

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If it’s going to work, your business vision needs to stir the soul and quicken the spirit. It is credible, but not easily or completely achievable and requires big thinking.

And this is the hard bit.

How often have we heard “You are being too idealistic.” or “You need to lower your standards”? Perhaps it is the nature of the world to discourage big thinking; the inertia of the status quo clamping down hard on all those who dare to dream big.

Here are five common excuses for not thinking big:

1. It’s too hard. I’ll never achieve it.

Goals are meant to be achievable; but not visions. The carrot, your grand vision, is simply a tool to spur you onwards on the journey that is your life’s work, in the pursuit of excellence. If your business vision is achievable, you are not thinking big enough.

Striving for excellence is not mindless perfectionism. Satisfaction comes not from achieving perfection, but rather from the enriching incremental steps of growth along the way. Yes, hard work and commitment are required. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. It’s your choice.

"As a wise friend once said to me – it is your motivation that carries you; not your skills."

2. It is unrealistic. The world is not like that.

A business vision that inspires and stretches you, by definition, cannot be realistic.

Consider these visions: “universal human rights”, “ending poverty on Earth”, “world peace”, “one laptop per child”. These are all unrealistic. It is unlikely that any of us, or our children, or even our children’s children, will live to see these completely fulfilled.

No reasonably intelligent person, however, can deny that these are powerful aspirations. They drive us to be more than what we believe we can be.

Tempering a vision to make it more realistic is defeatist. You may as well not have a grand vision to start with. (And yes, it is okay to not have a grand vision.)

3. It intimidates my friends. People will look at me funny.

The pressure to conform can come even from family and friends because of our innate fear of change. This is a well known phenomenon to counsellors. When someone is trying to better themselves, they often encounter resistance from those closest to them. “Oh no, if my wife quits smoking, I would feel pressured to do the same!”

A grand business vision should make the status quo uncomfortable and challenge entrenched beliefs. Women’s rights did not simply appear one fine day over coffee and cake!

Half-arsed is simply not inspiring enough.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business plans section.

4. It detracts me from getting on with business. It stops me from doing work.

If this is the case, you have not aligned your vision with your business. The medicos of Médecins Sans Frontières work successfully towards a grand vision everyday, as does design engineers at Lenovo, or programmers at Google. Or perhaps you see business as an activity divorced from dreams and passion?

A grand vision does not stipulate or limit you to specific courses of action. Its primary aim is to inspire, while allowing you to be completely flexible when it comes to the means.

A grand vision enables action and will never hold you back. It aids decision making and fosters integrity through the conscious examination of your decisions: will this project further my business vision?

5. I am not good enough.

As a wise friend once said to me – it is your motivation that carries you; not your skills. Skills can be acquired. But strong motivation comes only from big thinking.

So who are we to try and change anything? Tell that to all the pioneers who have come before us. They have thought the impossible thoughts, made the impossible inventions, changed the most draconian of social “norms”, and made possible the world we have today. There is still much to do – for both you and me.

As Michael Port puts it – instead of “why me?” think “why not me?”

A grand vision for your business is a sure way to generate a constant supply of passion and drive for excellence. And that will help you stand out and get noticed.

So how does your business vision shape up?

Zern Liew

helps his clients build beautiful businesses by practically innovating across their Branding, Communications, Processes and Systems.

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