How To Find Your Vision (For more Impact And Adventure)
Updated: May 28
For the Skim Readers:
If you are worried or anxious about not having a purpose, don't worry.
Test something new. Explore the world around you. Experiment.
Don't set out for a masterplan, create your vision.
Find someone you can emulate. Study them.
Read Start with 'Why' by Simon Sinek
Don't want to read this essay? Listen to the audio version on Soundcloud.
I'll start by quoting a story.
"One of the great visionaries of the twentieth century was Walt Disney. Any person who could create the first sound cartoon, first all-color cartoon, and first animated feature-length motion picture is definitely someone with vision. But Disney's greatest masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Walt Disney World. And the spark for that vision came back from an unexpected place.
Back when Walt's two daughters were young, he used to take them to an amusement park in the Los Angeles area on Saturday mornings. His girls loved it, and he did too.
Amusement parks are a kids paradise, with wonderful atmosphere: the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, the gaudy colors of signs advertising rides, the sound of kids screaming as the roller coaster plummets over a hill.
Walt was especially captivated by the carousel. As he approached it, he saw a blur of bright images racing around to the tune of energetic calliope music. But when he got closer and the carousel stopped, he could see that his eyes had been fooled. He observed shabby horses with cracked and chipped paint. And he noticed that only the horses on the outside row moved up and down. The others stood lifeless, bolted to the floor.
The cartoonist's disappointment inspired him with a grand vision. In his mind's eye he could see an amusement park where the illusion didn't evaporate, where children and adults could enjoy a carnival atmosphere without the seedy side that accompanies some circuses or traveling carnivals. His dream became Disneyland. As Larry Taylor stated in Be an Orange, Walt's vision could be summarized as, 'No chipped paint. All the horses jumped.'
...For Disney, Vision was never a problem. Because of his creativity and desire for excellence, he always saw what could be. If you lack vision, look inside yourself. Draw on your natural gifts and desires. Look to your calling if you have one. What disappoints you about the world around you? If you still don't sense a vision of your own, then consider hooking up with a leader whose vision resonates with you."
From the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.
One Step Further
do more than exist: live.
do more than touch: feel.
do more than hear: listen.
do more than think: reflect.
do more than read: absorb.
do more than look: observe.
do more than listen: understand.
do more than just talk: say something.
In that park, Walt is known for saying:
“I’d take [my daughters] to the merry-go-round and as I’d sit…on a bench, you know, eating peanuts – I felt that there should be something built […] where the parents and the children should have fun together.
This says something about his character. He wasn't content with sitting on the sidelines as a spectator. He let his thoughts push the status quo.
Well not everyone is Walt Disney.
So what if you don't know what your vision, passion, or purpose is?
Listen to what Matthew Kobach (Head of Social Media at NYSE) has to say about finding your passion.
Very few people actually know their purpose, passion, or vision.
He shares an interesting perspective for those who haven't identified what they're passionate about.
Experiment in life.
Try something new.
You might not be happy with the outcome, but the reality is you've gained a better perspective of something that you may or may not like.
Sometimes the fear of making a mistake or "failing" holds someone back to trying something new. Risk can allure or repel an individual based on their mindset.
And trying something new always has a risk. Even if the risk is just the negative thoughts in our own mind after the "failed" project.
Vision is the dispeller of worry and anxiety. The worried person sees their circumstances and because they don’t know where they’re going feel lost. The person with vision sees their circumstances and thinks, “of course this sucks…because I’m not to where I’m going yet. I can see where I’m going and I’m not there. And THERE is my next stepping stone.
What Walt Disney Thought About Making Mistakes
Walt Disney had a fair share of big mistakes on his projects. He went bankrupt. He had a mental breakdown, a devastating strike, and the loss of control over his creation Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. For someone who had a "status" to maintain, Walt was pretty open about his mistakes. He once said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
There are true benefits of failure. As Walt himself put it:
“It is good to have a failure while you’re young because it teaches you so much. For one thing it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.”
When I was 16, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to take on a risk. Through overcoming some tough life hardships, I developed a clear sense of what a vision can mean for me. My purpose was becoming clearer to me. But I needed to put it to test.
I lost $8,000 in that test. But I gained clarity on who I was as a human, what people I needed in my life, and what direction I needed to go in my life. I developed clear sense of what a vision might mean for my life.
Walt Disney wasn't just a dreamer. He took action. He kept his head above the clouds and kept his eyes on his long-term vision. If Walt Disney was here right now, he would know his project today could fail. But, he also knew everything he learned today would help him on his next project tomorrow.
A vision is not defined by projects, businesses, and creative projects. Projects have vision behind them, but projects aren't THE vision. In this context, a vision is a long-term visual projection in someone's mind about how something should be changed or different in the future. A business or project is simply a vehicle to get to the envisioned destination. Businesses can come and go. But visions can remain intact over lifetimes.
'A vision is not defined by projects, businesses, and creative projects. Projects have vision behind them, but projects aren't THE vision.'
Do you know what Disney's EPCOT stands for?
Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
Walt knew he needed to experiment and test projects if he ever was going to get close to his vision.
So, day-to-day when you're moving through life, trying new things, and taking on risks, remember one of Walt's famous quotes...
Meet the Robinsons is a 2007 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. You might remember watching this movie. There's a scene in the movie where Lewis, the 16 year old inventor, tries out a new invention in front of his future family, but it fails. His immediate reaction is dismay. His family's immediate reaction is to rejoice and sing in optimism. Their perspective was that there is nothing Lewis can then do except to KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
This is Walt Disney's strategy originally printed in 1958 (via David Perell's Twitter).
While many think this was the original master plan, this was, in fact, put together in retrospect.
Disney’s merchandising business had been around for nearly 30 years before this was created. When you read Walt Disney's biography, you learn most of Disney's major businesses were launched in desperate, save-the-company moves. There was no master plan.
Walt had a vision for the future. But the means to get there was a series of zigging and zagging. The success of Walt Disney's empire is rooted in iterations, pivots, and transitions. Click to tweet.
Life is a Series of Stepping Stones.
Start testing. If you don't like the outcome, keep moving forward. Invest in your own self-awareness and identify what interests you.
"I think I know what I'm Interested in, but I don't know where to start or how to test it"
Your interests may lie in environmental impact, cars, software, animals, politics, helping people, spirituality, fitness, marketing, or education.
Find someone who is excelling in that category and study them. Use the internet and study how they got started. Try out what they tried. You may find out you don’t have the interest in that area that you thought you did. After-all, life is a series of stepping stones.
When you find someone excelling in a category that interests you, ask them questions in a polite way.
Do not say "Can I pick your brain?". It is fundamentally one of the most dismissed messages that you can send to someone. Click to tweet.
I don't have the perfect answer for you. But here's the question that I usually ask:
"My name is Jeremy Miller. I am 21 years old (if you're young, leverage your age). I have a habit of reaching out to people who are smarter than me and who are at a point in life where I aspire to be. I am developing clarity on my purpose in life and want to see if _______ is something I can excel in. Could you share with me some advice on how you got started? I would really appreciate it."
Again, my message isn't perfect to every scenario. Edit the message based on your own tone, voice, and goals. My intention behind the message is to establish genuine trust with the receiver so that they are willing to invest time in me (even if it's just a direct message back on social media).
If they don't answer, keep moving forward. Find the next person of whom you want to emulate. Then repeat.
Invest in learning Your 'WHY'
Understanding why you do what you do is essential to manifesting your vision. It fuels the ideas and thoughts behind how you operate and what you create, and will serve as an emotional connection between you and your vision. This is important as it paves way for passionate work to take effect that of which will help to drive your goals and ambitions into reality.
Simon Sinek is an ex-advertising executive and author. He's studied the success of the world’s influential leaders and he found that the key to success lies in the way these people think, act and communicate.
Simon designed a mental model called "The Golden Circle". His popular book Start with WHY is heavily based around this concept.
The 'WHAT' = What you do
The 'HOW' = How you do it
The 'WHY" = Why you do it
If you don't know how to spend your time, that's okay.
If you don't know what your career should be, that's okay.
If you don't know what job to get or business to start, that's okay.
In referencing the Golden Circle, if you don't know 'WHAT' you want to do in life, that's okay. Especially if you're young. Most working adults haven't aligned their work with 'WHAT' they want to do, 'HOW' they want to do it, and 'WHY' they want to do it.
Young people often launch their careers with the immediate expectation to having their Golden Circle figured out. Individuals who know what they want are respected. However, it's not necessary to try to figure everything out on Page 1. If someone invests in themself by developing clarity around their 'WHY', then the 'WHAT' and 'HOW' will fall into place. Click to tweet.
It'll be easy to get your head down in the process of finding your vision because it's meant to an adventurous journey. Don't have the expectation that it will be easy and quick. Sometimes the journey is more enjoyable than the destination. But it's important to mentally remind yourself to keep moving forward.
Sometimes the journey is more enjoyable than the destination.
Maybe you just need reminders in your life. My strategy was getting a tattoo of 'Keep Moving Forward' in the Disney font on my right arm!
After reading this, if you can think of someone whom you think would benefit from also reading it... please share with them.
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