Using Vision and Action for Success

Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare. – Japanese Proverb

Do you get a great ideas and then plan and plan, and plan some more? After all, you want to get the details just right before you execute the ideas.

Or are you more like the converse and jump headlong into something without having a clear understanding of it? The details will work themselves out as you go, right?

If you operate at either end of the spectrum, you could be hampering your career development or your job search.

Let’s look at “vision without action” first:

Turn to Clear VisionBusinessWeek had a very insightful article a while back on how continual poking and probing for possibilities can actually get in the way of your progress. Julie Walraven called it “paralysis by analysis.”

There are two factors at work when a person gets stuck in a cycle of asking “what if:”

  1. As Julie and BusinessWeek pointed out, the fear of making a wrong move leads people to rehash the scenarios again and again.  They may even think that their critical focus on the possible outcomes is actually productive.  After all, it’s hard work to determine the right path to take!  Sadly, despite all their efforts and good intentions to do the right thing, they are merely spinning their wheels.
  2. Then there is the fact that, for many things in life, there are just too many options from which to choose.  You’d think that having lots of choices available would allow us to be able to have exactly what we want. The reality is that the more choices we have available, the worse our decision-making skills become.

Not a good place to be, is it? To feel like you are longingly looking out the window at what might be, but never attaining it can be downright depressing! “Vision without action” is not a good option.

And then there’s “action without vision:”

Dark roomWhen I think about this, I picture people thrust in a giant, pitch-black room. No sense of direction or location of any objects can be determined. Because nothing can be seen, they stumble around, bump into one another, and vainly try to find a wall, a light, something that can help make sense of where they are and how to get to where they want to go.

One reason why someone may choose act without a clear vision is overconfident in their abilities (“Ah, everything will be fine — I know what I’m doing!”) This behavior, unfortunately, only ends up being a classic demonstration of the Lake Wobegon effect — where everyone is “above average.”

Then there are others who perceive anything that is not hands-on “getting things done” as being a waste of time. It’s just do, do, do all the time. But what if they are doing unnecessary tasks or activities that don’t really relate to the bigger picture? “Action without vision” doesn’t work, either.

The only real solution is to strike the middle ground — use a good balance of vision and action to achieve successful outcomes. Depending on the circumstances, the balance may shift to favor either vision or action, but there remains a need to incorporate both activities.

Do you find yourself focusing too much on vision or action? How do you find the proper amount of each to achieve your goals?

Images courtesy of SpecialKRB and madmolocule

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