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Some Kidding Aside – What is Vision?

Vision interstate-2The United States fundamentally changed on June 29, 1956, the day the Interstate Highway System was established by the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956.

It’s hard for anyone born in the last 50 years to imagine travel in the U.S. before the interstate system. You just couldn’t get there from here, or to anywhere from anywhere else for that matter. Up until that time, if you wanted to travel, you needed a map and someone to read it, as you drove a spider web system of two-lane highways through corn fields and one-traffic-light towns.

Then came the interstate system and travel became easier then ever. Families all over America hopped in their cars and took off to see the country, visit long-lost relatives, or just follow the road to see where it took them.

A visionary young man named Cecil B. Day took note of this burgeoning trend and concluded that all of these people would need a place to stop at night. That place would need to be conveniently located next to the interstate and priced so that families could afford to stay there. Mr. Day opened his first hotel in 1970 and thus started what would become a nationwide chain of over 300 hotels named Days Inn. The Day family eventually sold Days Inn after Mr. Day passed away, but the chain continued to grow, now with over 1900 locations worldwide serving millions of guests.

Because of Cecil B. Day’s vision, the landscape of our country was drastically altered. He changed the way millions of people interacted with their families, vacationed, and worked.

We use the word “vision” in some form just about every day.

  • “Thanks to our visionary leadership…”
  • “If it weren’t for our founding fathers’ vision…”
  • “The company failed because of the limited vision of its leadership.”
  • “He lacked the vision to continue with his education.”

Phrases like these pepper our dialog every day, but we hardly ever stop to think about what they mean. What is vision? Where does it come from? Is it something you’re born with or can you acquire it? It is possible to get it later in life? How is an organization affected by it?

Good questions. And not being able to answer them may very well determine whether or not you achieve your potential.

I define vision as the ability to look ahead, to foretell your future, or the future of your product, company, organization, industry, country, or world. It means having a firm grasp of the principles of cause and effect, so that you can accurately predict the likely outcome of a set of circumstances. It is the skill or discipline of predicting future events, based on the observation of past or present behavior of subjects. It is the ability to apply these insights to produce a desired outcome or to avoid unpleasant results.

Some people have a strong Power of Vision, but most people don’t. Most people have their vision blocked or impaired, just like a kid that needs glasses but doesn’t know it.

Excerpted from The Seven Powers of Success; Unlock Your Strengths, Unleash Your Dreams.  © 2013 Charles Marshall

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