A method, plan & program for your company's vision
Great Visionaries were able to "see" the things they wanted to happen before they were a reality. This article tells some of the secrets, and how a furniture retailer can use them to have a better and more productive company!
- Susan B. Anthony... she said of her vision of women's suffrage: "Failure is impossible." She was right.
- Frank Lloyd Wright... his conviction and belief in his architectural visions were unparalleled.
- John F. Kennedy... He astonished America in 1961 by calling for putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
- When Disney World opened a lady made the comment: "It's too bad Walt didn't live long enough to see this." Walt's brother, Roy Disney, happened to overhear her. He said: "Walt DID see Disney World. That's why it's here."
Take this two question test before reading further
 I am a Visionary Leader. I have a Vision for my company. ____ YES. _____ NO.
 I have a method, a plan and a disciplined program to enhance this vision and communicate it to my associates. ____ YES. ____ NO.
When managers are asked these questions in a seminar, almost everyone will answer "yes" to number one. Very few entrepreneurs answer "yes" to number two. Visionary Leadership requires a yes answer to both questions. Without a crystal clear vision and a communication method, we are not leaders, we are "playing" leadership. As promised in the October/ November issue of FURNITURE WORLD (posted to the Marketing Management Index on http://www.furninfo.com), this article will tell you exactly how to develop and enhance your vision for your company.
If your vision for your company is not vivid and compelling, it will not fly. If you cannot "see" in your mind's eye what it is that you want, no one else will see it either. Being a Visionary Leader begins with a vision, but that is only the beginning. Then, as Walt Disney put it, you must "plus," or enhance your vision. You don't plus your vision because you believe it, you plus your vision to energize and expand your belief in it.
How much power does a vivid vision have when someone has total faith in it? Here is an unforgettable story about the power of vision, one you will never forget. An event took place over twenty years ago that changed America's concepts of athletic training.
THE VIVID VISION OF A BENCH PRESS
Charles Garfield wondered how he ever got into this predicament. He looked down at his body; it was hooked up with dozens of probes and wires. The wires led to a complex of machines that were monitoring his pulse, temperature, brain waves and so on. The Soviet psychologists and sports physiologists who surrounded him were busy taking notes, whispering among themselves, and occasionally observing him.
The year was 1979. Garfield, an American Olympic weight lifting coach, had been lecturing in Milan. He began to have conversations with a group of Soviet experts in athletic performance who contested many of Garfield's training ideas. Several days of good-natured debate followed. During these discussions Garfield implied that the only reason the Soviet athletes had achieved such astounding results in competition was because they used drugs. This challenging accusation was too much for the Soviet experts. They insisted that Garfield accompany them to a gym. It was very late, and the Soviets had to pull strings to get someone to open their training facility. Once there, they carefully unpacked a host of impressive instruments and hooked Garfield up to them. Then they began to ask questions, make computations, and take notes. How often did Garfield work out with weights? Garfield replied that he had not done any important exercise for eight years. Back then, at his peak, he had bench pressed 365 pounds. How much did Garfield think he could bench press now? Garfield suggested that he may be able to do 300 pounds, certainly no more than that. How long did he think it would take him to work up to 365 pounds again? Garfield guessed it would take about nine months to a year to reach his old record.
Then, at the urging of the trainers, Garfield attempted a 300 pound bench press. It was very difficult; he barely made the lift. Now the Soviets began to make calculations and measurements again, even taking a blood test. At last they announced that they were ready to complete their demonstration. Garfield sat upon a bench, still wired up to the network of monitors. He was told to loosen up, to drift into deep, deep relaxation. The Soviets suggested his arms were growing warm and heavy. Garfield began to feel a remarkable tingle throughout his body. After forty minutes of a deep, meditative, receptive state, the trainers gently suggested that he contemplate the barbell before him. Then they loaded it to 365 pounds!
"Imagine yourself approaching the bar with utter confidence," a trainer whispered in his ear. "See yourself lying down and actually pressing the weight. In your mind you must feel the cold bar, the rough knurled area for gripping; hear the weights rattling; hear your own breathing." The suggestion caused an immediate anxiety reaction from Garfield that sent the monitor readings into orbit. But the Soviet trainers were quietly confident, they continually assured him of his power, they urged him to see himself lifting the bar. Their dialogue began to crowd out and replace the "Will-to-Fail conversation" that had been going on in Garfield's mind. Instead of 'hearing' inside his mind: "I can't, it's impossible, I will hurt myself," he was beginning to hear:
"I can, I will, it is within my powers . . . I will see it, feel it, taste it, hear it, smell it . . . I will make it a REALITY in my mind!"
Slowly the monitors began to indicate that Garfield was calming down. He was beginning to believe he could do it. He began to have positive mental anticipation of success, and his body was beginning to respond to this emerging state of mind. The 'reality' around him began to fade away, there was only him and his self-belief - and the 365 pound barbell. When the Soviet experts saw the moment of peak physical and mental resonance had been reached, they quickly unhooked Garfield from the equipment. Garfield moved in, positioned himself, and promptly lifted the weight!
Garfield never forgot the experience. He began to develop these ideas, and to apply them to American Olympic athletes with impressive results. He wrote books1 and lectured on the untapped potential of all Americans, not just athletes. He has been an important pioneer in the holistic ideas behind the actualization process. Garfield has also devised ways to apply his concepts to businesses and the performance of employees.
Garfield's experience in Milan was not a 'mystic' event. It was the demonstration of the basic value of mental attitude in any endeavor. It was a valuable lesson that a powerful vision creates the state of mind of anticipated success. This state of mind is overwhelmingly forceful.
Garfield's experience was one of many similar episodes that have tantalized psychologists. Such events made it obvious that there is a vast potential within us all that can be released if we achieve the right state of mind. Scientists have long known it is there, but they have been unable to get at it with any consistency. In spite of Garfield's success with athletes, and the discoveries of other experts on motivation, few business people have learned how to lift the lid off the unused human capacity of the so-called "average" people who work for them.
HOW TO PREPARE TO DO IT
As we have seen, success is primarily a mind activity. The state of mind of the leader is everything. A powerful state of mind of a Visionary Leader begins with a daring dream of achievement. This dream or wish must be framed within a finite time span to convert it to a vision. This critical framing process is the difference between a dreamer and a visionary. Every day the visionary replays and embellishes the vision. If you want to set this process into motion, get a pad and a pen, and set aside one-half hour. This thirty minutes can change the future of your business and your life. Before you actually write anything down, however, please read the rest of the article. Then come back to the following question with your pad and pen.
FIRST, in your mind, answer this question: What are five specific improvements your business needs to accomplish, in the next 12 months, for you to be happy with your progress as a furniture retailer? Give yourself just a few minutes to think about this. If, in three to five minutes, you can think of five clearly defined improvements, you are already on your way to being a visionary leader of exceptional ability. If you can think of two or three things fairly quickly, that's not too bad.
If you are still blank after five minutes, if this question caught you by surprise, don't feel badly. Nearly all business people are so busy putting out fires they don't have much time to think about the future.
But, here you are reading this article. That means you sense, somewhere inside, the truth of Visionary Leadership. You know you need to take the time to think about what you want tomorrow to be. Perhaps, like most furniture retailers, you are finding that time is the most precious commodity you have. You wear so many hats now that it hardly seems possible. You are trapped in an endless game of urgency. The truth is, however, that with a little guidance you can leap out of that urgency box and become a Visionary Leader with a daring vision of what you want the future to be. When you do, everything else will follow, and will become easier. That is my promise to you.
HOW TO CONVERT YOUR WISH INTO A VISION
Think once more about the question: What would I really like to change about my business and my business life in the next 12 months? This time really let yourself out of the urgency box. Dare to dream big. Get in the frame of mind you had when you were a kid, and anything was possible. It's like Christmas morning and you are overflowing with expectation and energy. When you do this with the same frame of mind a great athlete generates when thinking about future performance, your mind will flood with ideas. Start capturing the best of them into simple declarative sentences. "I will double our closing ratio by this time next year." "I will move to a better location and run a drop dead moving sale that will finance the entire move." "I will renovate the outside of the store at last so that it looks twice as exciting, and finance everything with a profitable renovation sale." With out-of-the-box statements like these you pull your dreams out of the timid shadows and into the sunlight. When you dare to say what it is you want you are on the way to making it happen. Once you have stated them, you own your dreams. They will never let you rest. Next, take the giant step and turn your dreams into a vision. You do this by writing them down.
THE NEXT STEP: CRAFT YOUR VISION IN WRITING
How important is writing down your Vision? In BODY FOR LIFE, trainer Bill Phillips discloses this story: In 1953 a Harvard University study showed that only 3% of the graduating class had actually written down their goals. The class was tracked, and after twenty years, researchers checked their status. Those who had written down specific goals had accumulated more financial worth than the entire rest of the class combined! So, take the time to write down your vision in very specific terms. Be brief, clear, and limit the target areas to no more than five.
Now you are ready to plus the Vision. Never, never let a day go by without pausing to plus the Vision.
Carry a copy of your Vision with you. Read it at least twice a day, before you go to bed and the first thing when you wake up in the morning. Read it out loud, as though you were hurling your Vision as a challenge to fate. Read it with increasing power and conviction. Think about your Vision during the day. Plus your vision until it is as real to you as the experience Charles Garfield had before he made that bench press. Do this successfully and you won't have to push yourself anymore, you will discover yourself being pulled along. Such is the power of belief in a Vision.
One final point: A Visionary Leader is one who is always in a growth mode. Great Visionaries are always reaching higher, taking on new challenges. There is no time spent whining about the past. Experiences in the past are used to develop skills for the challenges of today. But the focus is always on making the future what the Visionary Leader wants it to be. This takes people. You are not a leader until you can lift up your Vision and inspire others to help you achieve it. In our next issue we will examine some new ideas on sharing your Vision with your associates. Sharing the Vision is the ultimate art of the Visionary Leader, and you can do it, it just takes knowing how.
1. Garfield's seminal book on this concept is PEAK PERFORMANCE: Mental Training Techniques of the World's Greatest Athletes, Warner Books, 1984.
Larry Mullins, President of UltraSales, Inc., has 30+ years experience in the front lines of retail furniture marketing. Larry's mainstream executive experience, his creative work for "promoter-specialists," and study of advertising principles has enabled him to continually develop new High-Impact strategies for independent furniture retailers that are sound, complete, and innovative. Inquiries can be sent to Larry care of FURNITURE WORLD at email@example.com.