I was at an event recently where one of the speakers said, “Yesterday’s awesome isn’t today’s awesome.”
She was right. Ideally, the sense of self we carry — our vision of ourselves — is an integration of who we have been and who we are in the process of becoming. In other words, the expression of your vision should be:
Your experiences and
existing or known attributes (the past)
Your vision of who you
aspire to be (the future)
The real-world demands of the
context you are in and the people
you are in relationship with (the present)
You can likely appreciate from this that this notion of vision and its expression is dynamic; it has movement built into it. Notions of self ideally will evolve, changing as you change, as your interests and skills change, and as your company and industry change.
Something I often witness is that people’s notions of self are unexamined or even stale, not current with their context. When that is the case, there can be misalignment with where they think they deserve to be or where their management thinks they should be.
- Is your vision keeping up with you?
Let’s revisit an example from earlier in the CCO. Early on in your career you might be rewarded for being easy to work with, the one everyone can count on to say “yes” with a smile, a true worker bee. As you progress in your career, however, these same attributes can work to hold you back because the expectations change for more senior leaders.
If you don’t periodically review your notions of self and the presence you want to stand for at work, you might not see that indiscriminately saying “yes” can take time away from projects and relationships that help you grow; working all night might be taken to demonstrate you aren’t strategic and can’t handle a promotion because you’re already having trouble with your existing workload; being overly compliant could signal you aren’t convicted or worse, lack integrity.
Pro tip: to make sure your vision is truly current with you, use the vision workflow in two ways. First, to get an idea of your current reality and second, to build an aspirational vision of the future you. (This is particularly appropriate when you are engaging in transformational personal development; things are changing for you through the personal development work you are doing, after all.) To that end, run through the questions twice, first as a gut check on how you show up right now. Then, run through the questions a second time with an eye toward what your answers could be when you are at your best, showing up as the person you want to be.
By using both views as part of the vision you hold for yourself, you are working with your vision to guide you today, and to spur you forward toward your higher potential.
If you’ve worked through the vision workflow two times as described immediately above — from the current perspective and the aspirational perspective — you will get a sense of yourself today, yourself in the future, and any gaps between the two.
There are many parts of you. Which part(s) of you do you choose to stand for? Which parts will you build on and cultivate? Which will you emphasize in your expression of your professional vision? Which do you need to let go of to enable you to move more fully toward your aspirational vision?
Use your aspirational vision to guide your evolution. To continue pushing in that direction, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is my best self?*
- Where do I want to be in 2 years? In 5 years?
- Who do I need to become to create the future I want?
- What do I need to become known for now in order to get there?
Allow yourself to be open to multiple possibilities for yourself. As Professor Hermina Ibarra, author and leadership expert observes, “That’s not being a fake; it’s how we experiment to figure out what’s right for the new challenges and circumstances we face.”
*You can see that working with the concept of aspirational vision has room for multiple dimensions: who you are at your best in present time and who you are in the future.