A wise old sage hosted a dinner. Toward the end of the meal, everyone was given fortune cookies and told they were holding their future in their hands. The guests eagerly opened them to read the words of wisdom they contained. The paper slips inside each cookie were blank.
“Is this a joke?” they asked. “Is our fortune so bleak or so full of emptiness?” “That’s up to each of you. The choice is yours,” the sage replied. “Many people are eager to have soothsayers predict their future. Fewer are willing to take responsibility for writing their own fortune. Your future is a blank sheet of paper waiting for you to co-create what is to come.”
I wrote that story after being inspired by a wonderful bit of synchronicity when I was writing a chapter on the power of visioning in Growing the Distance. We’d just finished a meal of Chinese food, and everyone was opening and sharing what was written in their fortune cookies. Someone got a cookie with a blank piece of paper in it. That created lots of laughing and joking about his future.
I’ve never found long-term goal setting useful. I suck at it. Most of the time frames on my projections, forecasts, and predictions are way off. I need a refund on my cloudy crystal ball.
Given the flagrant failures of “expert” projections and forecasts I wrote about last week, I’ve found visioning to be much more effective. Through persistence and staying true to my course, I’ve often reached and then reset many of my visions. But it was always through a different route than I first expected to take. Such strategic opportunism is at the heart of innovation (happy accidents) and navigating change.
A large body of research shows that visions can generate powerful magnetic forces in our lives. Whenever we think about the future, whether the next few days or longer-term, we’re visualizing potential scenarios, actions, and outcomes. What we focus on magnetizes our personal force field. This can set up powerful synchronicities or “lucky coincidences.” Stronger forces or events may also take us off track. But a clear and compelling vision can draw us toward searching for alternative routes toward our destination.
In Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson writes, “another simple way to boost your positivity is to dream more frequently about your future. Conjure up the best possible outcomes for yourself. Visualize your future successes in great detail. People who are assigned at random to carry out such an exercise show reliable increases in their positivity relative to those who carry out more mundane self-reflections.”
The word “vision” comes from the Latin root meaning “to see.” What we see depends upon where we look – our focus. A dream or vision is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Like any mighty energy, our visions can help or hurt us with their tendency to become self-fulfilling prophecies. A skeptical “realist” lives by the philosophy “I’ll believe it when I see it.” A leader harnesses the magnetic vision force through knowing “I’ll see it when I believe it.”
Our understanding and application of visioning has a deep mystical heritage spanning cultures across millennia. For example, Thomas Troward (1847 – 1916), English world religions researcher/synthesizer, author, and lecturer whose works influenced the New Thought Movement and mystic Christianity, wrote, “The action of Mind plants that nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation in outward visible form… The whole livingness of Life consists in receiving or in radiating forth the vibrations produced by the law of attraction … they become desires. Desire is therefore the mind seeking to manifest itself in some form which as yet exists only in its thought.”
What are the coming attractions of your magnetic field? What’s in your fortune cookie?
Jim Clemmer is the President of the Clemmer Group, a management consulting firm specializing in organization, team, and personal transformation.
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