The power of vision is just the start of achieving goals

Harvey Mackay column sig
We are part of The Trust Project.

"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town, and, as an older man, I tried to change my family.

"Now, as an old man, I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I could indeed have changed the world."

Also Read
Columnist Harvey Mackay says great skill is no match for a group of people with a common objective and harmony.
Columnist Kristen Asleson says she believes so much in letting go of what she cannot control, she had a reminder tattooed on her left shoulder blade.

These comments, commonly attributed to an unknown monk in the year 1100, illustrate the power of vision.

A vision is the mental picture of what you desire. Clear goals are essential, but having a vision is more than just achieving goals. You must have inspiration, motivation and a believe-in-yourself mentality. A vision provides hope and a desire to work harder. Having a vision means having a clear sense of purpose.

I learned long ago that projecting oneself into a successful situation is one of the most powerful means of attaining personal goals. Vision doesn't do the planning and it doesn't anticipate the obstacles. It gives a real idea of what is possible, if only you want it bad enough.


Author J. Oswald Sanders said: "Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare."

Here are some of the facets of a successful vision:

Realism: The first thing is to make sure that your vision is doable. Many people have visions that are not attainable. You need to have a clear picture of what you want.

Desire: The will is as important as the skill. I've always said that you can accomplish almost anything if you put your mind to it. If you believe you can do something, you have a chance. If you don't, you won't.

Motivation: I think one of the best motivators, the one that is most likely to stick with you – even for a lifetime – is the one that comes from within, the voice inside you. You must ignite your own passion. Motivation is the spark that ignites success.

Focus: How many times have you heard an athlete talk about focus? It's a topic I also hear about frequently in business. The most common complaints: too many irons in the fire, too many projects spinning at one time, too many interruptions, too many phone calls, too many emails, too many things to do and too little time.

Decide what is most important. Stay focused as best you can, and don't let things happen to you – not when you can make things happen instead.

Confidence: Confidence doesn't come naturally to most people. Even the most successful people have struggled with it in their careers. The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you're willing to work hard and achieve some success.


Flexibility. No matter how good your ideas are or how committed you are to your vision, remember that things change. Be ready to modify your plans so you can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

At age 40, Thomas Watson Sr. became general manager of a little firm that manufactured meat slicers, time clocks and simple tabulators. However, he had a vision for a machine that could process and store information long before computers were a reality. To match his lofty vision, Watson soon renamed his company International Business Machines Corporation. He was asked late in life when he envisioned IBM becoming so successful. His reply was simply, "At the beginning."

In the early 1970s, Fred Smith described his vision for an overnight nationwide air express delivery system in a term paper for his economics class at Yale University, for which the professor is said to have awarded him a C. Today, Federal Express delivers freight and packages in more than 220 countries across six continents each day.

Walt Disney's wife, Lillian Disney, attended the opening of Disney World in Florida, five years after Walt's death in 1966. An interviewer said to her, "I wish Dr. Disney had lived to see it."

Mrs. Disney replied, "He did."

Mackay's Moral: A vision without a task is a dream. A task with a vision is drudgery. But the two together are the hope of the world.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached at , by emailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

Related Topics: HARVEY MACKAY
What to read next
West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Storage Rentals of America recently purchased a Rochester storage facility for $4.39 million and an Austin one for $2.1 million from the Minneapolis-based storage chain KO Self Storage.
Builder/developer Joel Bigelow built more than 5,000 houses during his almost 40 years as the head of Bigelow Homes, but his peers say he is best known for building communities throughout southeastern Minnesota.
Ryan Stock never sought to become a martial arts instructor, the opportunities to teach always fell in his lap over the years to where he is now.
New episodes are published weekly on Fridays.