A couple of years ago I enjoyed a fascinating day in Mountain View, California, as my wife Gail and I attended the annual shareholders meeting of Tesla, the electric car company founded by billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk. (Full disclosure: Gail was the smart one investing in Tesla. I was just arm candy.)
The business portion of the meeting lasted no more than five minutes. The interesting part, about four hours as the multi-talented Mr. Musk told stories about the early days of Tesla, the big ideas, the failed experiments, the almost-went-bankrupt nail-biters and the incredibly successful phenomenon that continues to unfold as this still-new company rewrites the rules on personal transportation.
Turns out that Elon is a truly terribly public speaker, a reasonably talented engineer and a stunningly brilliant visionary. And there’s the key. In story after story he told us that he could see the end results in his mind’s eye. He readily admitted that, at many points he didn’t have a clue as to HOW he would actually get to that end result, but he didn’t for a moment doubt that he would.
I love reading about and speaking with successful people. And the one thing they all have in common is the ability to visualize the goal they are heading towards.
For example, I recently read a great book* by Daymond John, the entrepreneur founder of the FUBU clothing line and multimillionaire member of the team of Sharks on the popular TV reality show, Shark Tank. The book highlights both his own experience and that of a number of other successful entrepreneurs as they founded and built their companies. And in every case, the driving force was the clarity of the vision they each had for what they wanted to accomplish.
So, when you look out into your future, what do you see? Can you describe a detailed picture of where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing? What goals will you be working to achieve? Who will you be serving? Can you visualize this day three years from now?
Notice that I’m using words that all talk about vision, pictures and seeing. The reason this is so important is that it forces you to have tremendous clarity about your goals. If they’re the least bit vague or clouded, the likelihood that you’ll achieve them falls off rapidly.
So when you think about your life 36 months, 1,080 days from today, what color will the walls be? What window will you be looking out? Who will you be calling, visiting? Who will you include in your circle of influence? What will your bank statement say? How will this picture be different from the one you see today?
Like Elon Musk, you might not have a clue about how you’re going to get there. But that’s not nearly as important as knowing where you want to get to. You’ll figure it out, bit by bit, along the way.
When you drive at night, the headlights on your car illuminate only the few hundred feet in front of you. But you can drive from Seattle to Miami seeing only that much at a time. You don’t need to see the whole route, but you do need to see Miami in your mind.
Daymond John makes a great comment near the end of his book that is going to stick with me: “You can’t hit a target that you can’t see.”
What does your target look like?
* ‘The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage