Vision is a verb

Avi Charkham
5 min readSep 24, 2019

If you want to know why so many visions end up as empty words printed on a poster, hanging from corporate walls, Google “define:Vision”.

You will see a long definition of the noun VISION… But if you scroll and look carefully you will see single word definition for the verb vision:

Vision (verb): Imagine

If fact Vision is so rarely used as a verb that Google saw fit to add the label “RARE” next to it.

Nouns don’t drive action

The fact we’re creating visions (the noun) but not “visioning” our visions is the reason so many of them end up decorating our quarterly presentation having very little impact on our day to day decisions and actions.

Nouns don’t drive action!

To vision you got to see it

Our brains are incredible machines. They rely mainly on vision (the sense) to create their perception of reality. But the most incredible thing about the grey mass that occupies our skull is that it can “see” beyond the present, back to the past and into the future.

Not only that, once the brain “sees” these visions of the future it has the ability to make them real. But to do so the brain has to “see” the vision.

So if you want to create a personal or company vision that actually drives reality try following these 2 steps:

  1. Create a “visionable” vision
  2. Make visioning a habit to ensure you actively vision your vision

Step 1: Creating “visionable” visions

For a vision to be visionable it needs to be: Positive, tangible and motivating.

#1 a positive vision

When I ask people “what would be an ideal future 3 years from now?” many of them start with the negative elements they want to eliminate/remove from their current reality. They would say things like “3 years from now I don’t have to work 12 hours a day!” or “3 years from now our company eliminated cable TV”

As a noun, these visions might pass. But remember the definition of vision as a verb is TO IMAGINE. Now take a second and try to imagine “Not working 12 hours”. You can’t!

Because there is no way to imagine the No. You can only imagine the YES, the positive.

So if presented with a “negative” vision ask “…and when you will not work for 12 hours what WILL you do? What would be possible?”.

Then you might get an answer like: “3 years from now I’m working 8 hours a day and arriving home each day at 6 pm to spend the evening with my family”.

Now, this a vision you can imagine!

#2 a tangible vision

“3 years from now I will be financially secure”.

Many people, when asked about their vision describe the future mindset they desire. While including your future mindset in your vision is important to fuel the actions it is abstract and very hard to IMAGINE. It’s not “visionable”.

So if presented with a mindset-centered vision ask “What would it take for you to feel financially secure?” or “If I could be a fly on a wall observing you 3 years from now, how will I know you are financially secure?”…

This might yield an answer like “3 years from now we have no debts, we are saving 10% of our income and are able to take a prepaid 2 weeks summer vacation”.

Can you imagine this?

#3 a motivating vision

“5 years from now I lost 30 punds”

The secret to ensuring our visions generates the e-motions required to drive our outcomes is baking the reason into our vision.

When our vision is comprised of the outcome only (“I lost 30 pounds”) and omits the impact that outcome had on us, others or the world our brain succeeds in producing an image but fails to generate e-motion we need to drive our vision.

So if you are presented with a reason-less vision ask “Why is that important to you?” or “What impact will losing 30 pounds have on you?” or even better “Who will benefit from you losing 30 pounds?”.

Then they might get an answer like “Oh, My doctor told me I might not live to 60 if I don’t lose weight and the thought of my children living without me kills me”.

Now the vision can be updated to “5 years from now I lost 30 pounds, I’ve lived to see my children marry and play with my amazing grandchild every weekend”

Now imagine it’s 5 am. It’s a cold winter day and you need to get out of bed for your morning run. Which of the two visions is most likely to get out of bed?

Step 2: Making vision a habit

The key to ensuring our brains actually vision our visions is making visioning a habit.

The secret to making visioning a habit are “vision questions” that can be easily added into your existing daily rituals.

As you plan your next day ask: “What is the one thing I will do tomorrow that would get me closer to my vision?”. When you do so your brain has to vision both tomorrow and your long term vision.

When faced with a choice ask: “When I imagine myself going down these 2 paths which gets me closer to my vision?” then go back and make the choice based on what you “saw” in the future.

Before starting a meeting ask: “What would be an ideal outcome of this meeting?” and use the ideal outcome you imagined as a lighthouse to ensure the meeting is effective.

When reflecting on your day ask: “What was the most impactful outcome I achieved today? How did it get me closer to my vision?” and use your conclusion to fuel your vision for tomorrow.

When your doubts come to hunt you ask: “Who will benefit when I unlock my vision? How will their lives be better? What would be possible once I unlock my vision?” and let what you see in the future fuel and strengthen you.

So what is the future you want to live in? How often do you imagine your vision? How is your vision shaping your day to day decisions and actions?