One of the core lessons I teach clients in my Career Revisioning Program is the art of holding a vision.
This is one of the least understood, but most important keys to turning your dream into a reality.
When we hold the vision, it doesn’t mean working hard or going back to school. But neither are we making a vision board and expecting the cheques to roll in. Holding the vision is about allowing others to help you.
This is the key that allows the “impossible” to happen.
Holding the vision was taught to me by an enlightened man from Malaysia by whom I was fortunate enough to be directly mentored.
At the time I learned this key, I was utterly trapped in my software company. I had a business partner, 13 staff, and angel investors. Family and friends had invested, and I had personally borrowed $85,000 to get the company to this point. To top it off, I had a 3-year-old son and was financially supporting my partner in completing her education.
I really had no way out without losing all my money and disappointing a lot of people.
Exasperated, I told my teacher how I hated my work but felt hopelessly trapped in it.
He stared right at me with a knowing look and said, “Who are you?”
I knew what he was asking. He recognized that I was not the work I was doing for my software company. There was something else I was meant to be doing that was already alive inside of me. He saw it, and I saw it too. I was being a fake every time I went to work because it wasn’t me.
I spoke about the real vision that had been growing inside me: “I see when people are inspired and free at work and when they are trapped and miserable. I just know why they are stuck and what they need to get their life back.”
I was imagining talking with people and solving problems – something that was already happening spontaneously. I would naturally do this in coffee shops, in cars, in work meetings – people would tell me things about their careers and I could just tell what was missing and what was needed.
As I said these words, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I was talking about the real me here.
He said “Yes. Now, hold that vision. If you need help holding it, come to my house and I will help you hold it.”
What? I looked at him like he had just suggested we to fly to the moon. My teacher explained to me that within every moment, every conversation, I must consciously choose my intention. Getting clear on who I really was, what I really wanted to be doing in the world, I was to consciously hold the intention of that reality.
This was basically about getting real. No more faking it, avoiding uncomfortable conversations, or being what I thought other people wanted me to be. Holding the vision meant aligning my thoughts, feelings and actions with what I actually wanted. Who I truly was.
Holding the vision means making every word and action a truthful expression of who you really are and what you’re up to.
When you’re clear on your vision, in every moment you can act and speak in ways that create that reality, or you can ignore it and instead meet the expectations of others.
Making the conscious choice to align my actions with this budding vision would have a ripple effect outwards as I made my way through the world – although I had no idea how big it would be.
The next day I was at a networking event. When someone asked what I did, I started with the usual “Hi, I’m Jeff, I own a software development company…” but stopped and remembered about holding my vision.
With a rush of positive feelings about who I really was, I said: “…but you know what? This is what I’m really up to!” and I shared my vision, just like I had with my teacher.
Almost every person I spoke with that night said the same thing, with a genuine look of interest in their eyes: “Wow! That’s awesome.”
And, amazingly, they immediately followed up with some kind of contribution like: “Have you read…” or “Have you heard about…” or “Have you met Jennifer? I need to introduce you.”
All of a sudden, doors were opening, just by allowing myself to be real about who I was and what I was really up to.
When you are being your authentic self and share what you most want to contribute to, people cannot help but be moved and inspired. And then they often can’t help but contribute to it! It’s human nature.
Speaking about my vision also helped me get clearer and clearer about it each time I shared. I now knew what I was meant to do.
But how was I going to afford to do it or get out of my company? I was completely unwilling to betray my partner, investors, and staff.
Here’s where holding the vision allows real magic to come into our lives.
A couple days later, at the end of a meeting, I pulled my business partner aside and said “Hey, I want to let you know something. I am 100% for honouring my commitments to you and our company. I’m not going anywhere. But, I want to share that, ultimately, this is what I’m meant to be doing…” And with the same energy and inspiration, I shared my vision with her.
It felt very risky to be so vulnerable and authentic with her. Would she be furious with me, or lose trust? She listened as I spoke. And because I was being completely real, she totally got it.
Within 3 weeks my business partner had met with our major shareholders and figured out how I could transition out of the company without hurting it or losing any of my investments. She did that on her own because she cared about my wellbeing and my vision and she wanted me to realize it. I had never even made a request for help!
I went from working 11 hours a day, 6 days a week to being an on-call consultant for the company. And I was making almost as much as I was making before!
I was free to start my new business and I had the money to do it.
I could not have created that opportunity myself. It came from allowing others to share and support me. And the only way others would share and support me was by hearing me speak authentically and vulnerably about my dream.
Holding the vision is crucial for turning our dreams into reality. It forces us to get clear on who we are and what we’re up to. It demands a higher level of integrity from us – to be who we really are. And it’s such a powerful practice that it literally opens doors for every person who uses it.
These are the doors that provide unseen and unheard-of opportunities. The right investor comes along. The perfect office opens up. The right publisher appears.
If we put our vision on the backburner until we think we’re wealthy enough or have everything we need to make it happen, it will wither and possibly die. If we begin holding and sharing this vision right away, it will blossom and lead us to our destiny.