DiscussionCategory: QuestionsHow to workaround the visionary part of building a networking company?
Robin KoltonRobin Kolton asked 4 months ago

I have a small business that is in the network marketing field, everything i read or listen to always says to see where you want to go, as we know, we are not able to see anything. I am looking for suggestions on how I can be successful in my business, suggestions on how to envision the future. I have vision boards everywhere, but that doesn’t really seem to help.


2 Answers
Tom EbeyerTom Ebeyer Staff answered 4 months ago

Hi Robin,

Interesting question. I’ve run across this idea a lot in the entrepreneurship/ coaching/mentoring / personal improvement world. There’s a great deal of emphasis put on “imagining success” or “creating a vision of the future”.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about how he used visualization to become a bodybuilding champion, a world- famous actor, and then the governor of California.

There’s no easy answer, but I’ve thought about this idea quite a bit. Here’s my perspective:

We can’t visualize or imagine a future that doesn’t exist. That won’t change, so best we accept it.

We can however reasonably deduce what future is possible, and what probably isn’t. . Ie, I likely won’t be a bodybuilding champion, but it is reasonable that if I put in the work I could become much stronger.

I like to use a little metaphor: rather than use a map, opt for a compass.

A visual image of “success” is more like a map: it’s a more detailed description of where you want to end up. The theory is, if you keep the image in your mind, you’ll act in a way that increases the probability of that image coming to fruition.

A compass however, points you in the direction you need to go, and leaves it up to you to overcome the obstacles along the way.

This to say, a focus on what I could be doing with my time to increase the odds of a desirable outcome, is the best strategy.

Getting caught up in the inability to visualize that outcome is both self defeating and counter productive.

What do you think?

Kat KaneKat Williams replied 2 months ago

“We can’t visualize or imagine a future that doesn’t exist.”

Here’s where we’re going to have to rethink the word “imagine” in modern usage, now that we’re aware that aphantasia affects a statistically significant part of the population. Because technically it is a word tied specifically to visualizing, with its etymology meaning, “faculty of the mind which forms and manipulates images.” But it’s not actually used in that limited capacity by any English-speaking society. If you create a conversation between two people in your mind, and write it down, and others read it, people would still agree that it came from your imagination – even if you neither saw the participants saying it, nor heard their voices, in your mind. To the general population, the term imagination means “things you made up in your mind.”

This problem has led to annoying articles titled along the lines of, “Aphantasia: The People Born Without an Imagination.” I don’t care how linguistically accurate that title is, for those of us who are creatives, actors, writers, storytellers, etc. who have aphantasia, it’s an obnoxious misrepresentation of the condition and how it affects us.

You can imagine a future that doesn’t exist. I do it every single day, even if you can’t visualize it.

Kat KaneKat Williams answered 2 months ago

I won’t pretend to be a business or networking guru, but in almost every case, the way to make up for a lack of internal sensory information – whether it’s learning something new, semantic and autobiographical memory retention, spatial awareness – is to use external sensory information. In other words, when you can’t do math in your head, you look for a paper and pencil and when you can’t remember how to get somewhere, you use your GPS.

If "vision boards" aren’t working, look for a visual analogy that works for you. How about drawing a literal map – or using a map-drawing program if your ability to draw is as horrible as mine – of the path you want to take? Make a video describing what you want your businesses course to be and revisit the video regularly. Maybe created videos of yourself, detailing your goals and what you think it will take to achieve them, updating them as often is necessary. Create audio recordings you can listen to in the car, at the gym, etc. which reinforce not just generic success tropes but the specific things you want to achieve and obstacles you need to overcome.

The thing about visualization techniques is that their success or failure isn’t just dependent upon how well you visualize, it’s also dependent on creating the right imagery that your mind can use productively. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy doesn’t work if you’re trying to imagine a world where you’re never depressed again and your anxiety has just disappeared. It requires rational and achievable goals, approached in a way that your mind can reinforce them regularly. For some that’s a mantra, or guided meditation. For others it means writing down goals and rewriting them as they expand or shift. Some start a chart on their wall, or lay out a time table, with a set of steps that can lead to their ultimate goal. Even people who can visualize find that their internal vision is reinforced by external stimuli.

I also think it’s very wise to continue to seek advice from others in the aphantasia community, because the smartest people in any business are the ones who stop trying to reinvent the wheel and use peer-tested best-practices as a starting point for finding their own solutions. And ignoring your specific challenges for generic "Hey, success is hard" messages, is a recipe for failure. If you don’t really look at your individual needs you won’t be prepared for what gets in your way.

A personal anecdote to illuminate what I mean: A few years ago, my sister and I had a burgeoning gourmet cupcake business. Just as we were starting to get a word-of-mouth following, both of us suffered health issues at the same time, that made it impossible to stand up for the kind of time it takes to bake, frost, package and label our products. Now we couldn’t have prepared for those health problems, but we’ve talked about trying to relaunch the business recently. And part of that conversation is knowing that her injury could reoccur with overexertion, and I still can’t be on my feet for very long at a time, so we have to address those personal challenges if we ever want to revisit the idea. If we just focused on being our own cheerleaders, that wouldn’t accomplish anything. Instead we’d look for specific tools and resources that could help us, ask people in the mobility-limitation community for advice, and plan for eventualities when our bodies won’t cooperate with our wills. The same applies to managing any learning disability or mental-processing challenge, like aphantasia, and making it work within your professional, academic or personal goals.

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