When I first began growing a company, it was because I had a vision. It popped into my head while I was driving. I was wondering what would be the ideal working environment for me in the future. I was in the middle of a transition, and trying to figure out what was next.
In my mind’s eye, there was a group of women exchanging ideas and collaborating. Some were younger than me, some were older, There wasn’t much else to see, but there were feelings that went with the vision. There were feelings of connection, enjoyment, and meaning that came from doing great work as a team and being supportive of one another.
These feelings became a way for me to orient to the future I hoped to create. I began moving toward experiences that brought up those same feelings. When situations felt less like the feelings from my vision, I moved away, or limited my time. I pursued actively those areas that felt more like my vision. I gradually calibrated to that feeling-vision, so that it was closer and closer to what was actually happening in the present. Ultimately, the feeling in the vision was my actual experience.
Your Vision As a Touchstone
Over the years, there were many twists and turns as I built a small business, working with a fabulous team. Today, Integrated Work is being continually shaped by the visions of the team members working together to apply new levels of leadership.
Using inner visions to help guide my journey is an invaluable skill. In terms of keeping a team on track and keeping myself focused, my vision of the future became an asset—a really useful tool in my quest.
Many times when I was faced with a decision, I returned to the touchstone of that feeling from the vision, and made decisions in alignment with it. Setting a strategic direction for an organization taps into the tremendous power of a shared vision to help shape the future.
In my coaching and consulting work, I notice that many people are willing to accept a “used future” instead of imagining a future they really want. When groups of people fail to use the future as a tool to help them navigate their path together, they miss out on one of the most important levers for their success.
Assess Your Future Mindset
Will you work towards a Used Future, or a Preferred Future? Answer each of the following questions to find out where you (or your organization) falls on the Future Mindset Scale.
- 1. The future is…
- a. Set in stone
- b. Subject to change
- 2. Who determines what happens in the future?
- a. Other people or circumstances
- b. I can influence what happens in the future
- 3. When I think about the future…
- a. I wonder whether or not I will like it
- b. I consider how my actions can affect it
- 4. How do you feel about uncertainty?
- a. It’s too risky, we should stick with what we know
- b. It’s an opportunity to create something new and useful
- 5. Do you believe that there only one possible future, or multiple potential futures?
- a. Singular future
- b. Multiple potential futures
- 6. When thinking about the future, what is your approach to change?
- a. I see it as fixed, and prefer to keep the status quo
- b. I try to remain open and foster positive change
- 7. How does the future relate to the past?
- a. The future is simply a repeat of past events – it’s all happened before
- b. The future is shaped with the knowledge from the past
Take a look at your answers… Each time that you answered “a” to a question, you were operating from a Used Future. The times you chose “b” as your answer, you were showing a mindset of someone who shapes their Preferred Future.
So what’s the difference?
Those who orient toward a Used Future devote less time, energy and resources to constructing their own path forward because they don’t think it will make much of a difference. When orienting to a Preferred Future, uncertainty becomes an opportunity to design the desirable and to generate the excitement that comes with new possibilities.
Since the future is not already determined, why not make it as valuable as can be for you and the causes you care about?
Explore what else are you capable of. I’d be delighted to help you Upgrade Your Vision with some intensive, short-term coaching. Find out more about you can shape your future.
Jessica Hartung is a partner, coach, and guide for those leveling-up their personal professional leadership, their teams, and their communities to a better future.
Jessica has a passion for inspiring and preparing people to grow from their work to improve their lives. In 1998, she founded Integrated Work, a consulting firm that brings top-notch professional development to mission-driven leaders, while being a learning laboratory for innovative work practices.
Jessica provides self-directed professional development tools to leaders at all levels striving to create positive impact.