Want to be a real visionary? Consider getting some help.

I am blessed to be a part of an amazing group of CEOs who have been coaching partners to each other for almost 15 years. One of the things that I have seen in this group is the power of dreaming–but not just for yourself.

We all get trapped in our own beliefs, daily concerns and doubts. These can build a definition of what is possible in your mind–and it can be less than the vision that others see for you.

I recently listened to a CEO give me some feedback about another CEO:

“She’s so amazing. She is connected, just like you read about, and she is so competent. She could probably leave what she’s doing right now and consult for two to three times the money for half the hours.”

Here’s what I found amusing: I had met with the CEO who was the subject of the compliments the prior week, and she had said virtually the same thing about the other CEO.

Our most supportive advisors see in us things that we do not always see ourselves. So my recommendation is that you and your advisors do some reverse-dreaming: You dream for them and they dream for you.

Here’s how I’ve structured these conversations in the past.

Set a date in the future. Maybe it’s a year, or three, but pick a date and ask the person to speak as if it were that day. Now the presentation is not what you could do, but what you have done.

Describe for the other person what that future looks like. This description should be big, detailed and challenging. You can mention awards won, scale of business operations, how that person is spending time day-to-day, next great accomplishments on the horizon, etc. Do it big, but not outrageous. Setting Grammy Award goals for a painter is silly; stay within the person’s universe of interests and gifts.

Name a few obstacles that were overcome along the way. The future has some hurdles and stages–all growth does. Name three to five obstacles that the person had to triumph over.

Give some coaching. What were the key skills the person needed to learn to achieve this great future? What were some experiences that should help create those lessons?

If you have chosen your dreaming partner well, this should help you create a picture of a much bigger future than you have envisioned for yourself.

Now use a few simple, practical rules to make this exercise better:

  • Give a few minutes for your dream partner to think.
  • When you’re the listener, don’t edit or interject. Just take the information in and do your best to visualize this future.
  • Every smartphone has a voice recorder. Record this conversation so you can stay engaged and play it later, rather than taking notes.
  • Save your questions for afterward. And don’t argue. This is a gift.

The great thing about advisors and admirers is that they see in us an unlimited future of possibilities. Sometimes their perspective can jump-start our own pictures of the future.

In dreaming for someone else, you not only return the gift, but challenge your own ability to envision a remarkable world.

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