How to Think like a Visionary
I was riding in an airplane a few years ago when Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, plopped down in the seat next to mine. Imagine that! We talked for a while, and then Branson hurried off to visit a few of his friends on the other side of the plane. I should mention, by the way, that Branson had invited me on this particular outing – and it was in his brand new Boeing 747 (bound for the Virgin fleet). He wanted to show off his new toy.
In 30 years as a business journalist, I’ve met quite a few business visionaries: Steve Jobs of Apple, Fred Smith of FedEx, Intel’s Andy Grove, Motown’s Barry Gordy Jr., and many more.
What do they have in common? Business visionaries find ideas that the rest of us miss. They learn to picture things from different perspectives. They employ intuition. They know how to drum up support for their dreams.
So how can you think like a visionary? Here are some tips:
[wcm_restrict]Awakening: Visionaries awaken to ideas that are right smack dab in front of all of our faces. They see them; we don’t. The iPad, for instance, didn’t come down to Steve Jobs on a bolt of lightning. It was the clever synthesis of things that already existed. That’s a key to visionary thinking: Combining things in new ways.
Seeing: Our brains have given us a powerful tool: An imagination that lets us see things from a different perspective. When Jeff Hawkins was developing the Palm Pilot, he imagined what people might use it for. Walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes boost creativity. Have you tried it lately?
Intuition: Successful visionaries know when to trust their intuition, and when to trust realm of analytics. When is intuition generally preferable? Usually when the problem is complex, requires guesses about the future, and has many moving parts. When was the last time you had a gut feeling about something? Go back and revisit that feeling, and then note it when it happens again. That’s your intuition kicking in. Get to know it.
Luck: Successful visionaries are lucky. Richard Branson, for instance, seems to stumble from one great success to another. It’s enough to make you sick (with envy, that is). Scientists now see that luck comes in clumps. Moreover, researchers have shown that open eyed, adventurous, ebullient people have better luck than those who live their lives to a strict plan (and who keep their eyes down in the details). So keep your eyes up, you mind open, and luck will more likely come your way.
The brain is always evolving, always forming new circuits. So as you learn to think like a visionary you will not only change your surface self, but the fundamentals of who you are.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]
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About the Author
Erik Calonius, author of Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of Us, is a former reporter, editor and London-based foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, a staff writer for Fortune magazine and Miami bureau chief for Newsweek. In addition to this work, he has authored several other well-regarded publications as well as works of fiction.
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