Be Careful What You Wish For — Visioning Works!
By Jeremy DeRuiter
Note: This article was first published on LinkedIn in September 2020, and has been updated to post here.
I was introduced to the process of visioning through the co-owners/CEOs of BIGGBY COFFEE asking a group of BIGGBY Owner/Operators and Home Office staff to answer questions from Michael E. Gerber’s excellent The E-Myth Revisited. Mr. Gerber asks readers — potential or existing entrepreneurs — to ask themselves why they’re building a business. To go beyond the pat answer of “to make money or “to be my own boss” and to better understand how building a business serves the big picture of the reader’s life, and how it can connect to how they want their life to go.
First of all, let’s not add any mystique to “visioning.” It is essentially journaling about what you want your future to look like. You can grab a blank notebook or legal pad, or open a note on your device (it’s easy that way, and I am a professed fan of unencumbering ourselves of as much paper clutter as we can, though I invite you to consider that there is research that shows we retain more of the things we physically write, rather than type), and start right away, with no further instruction, and you will be visioning.
You’ll see the benefits of visioning if you reengage it repeatedly across time. The Moonshot Guidebook is the best resource that is out there to help you with this process, if you’d like a strong framework to help you build the habit.
This is a story of what visioning has looked like, across time, for me. And about how you have to be careful about what you put out into the universe.
In my second year of doing the Primary Aim visioning work, here’s what I wrote about what I’d like to be doing two years from now:
I want to call your attention to the fourth word of my response. It is very telling. I was about eight months into my position as Brand Sphere Director for BIGGBY, and struggling. I think that if you would have asked me at the time to expand on what I meant by “be free of day to day management…” I would have told you that it was about being able to focus on the bigger picture of what we were doing, rather than being in the details about how specific campaigns were coming together. About embracing my strength for strategy, and relying on the strengths of my team to execute. But there’s that phrase: “free of…” Looking back, it’s pretty clear to me that I was fairly unhappy in the day to day tasks of that job, and that phrase says it all. I was trapped.
But look at what comes next…I wanted to help people, to make connections, learn, and then share, including doing work on behalf of our BOOST Sphere — the team responsible for personal, leadership, and culture development. And I wanted to have balance in my life, rather than the 55-ish hour a week life I was living at the time.
Then 2018 came. At BIGGBY, over the preceding months we had written our higher purpose of supporting you in building a life you love, and that our vision is that we will improve workplace culture in America. And I came within a hair of being fired from BIGGBY. I definitely fulfilled, in nearly catastrophic terms, being freed of my day to day management. I’ve told that story elsewhere if you’re interested. Bottom line: Be careful what you write down when you’re visioning. You’re likely to reach the ends you’re looking for, but watch out for unanticipated means!
In January of 2018, I wrote this, and you can see two things here: 1) I was clearly rewriting what I had previously typed out, and 2) the cross-out that I did following my near-firing, demotion, and move to the BOOST team. But it was also that January when I wrote my first iteration of my Moonshot, “to laugh at home every day and to die knowing that the work I’ve done has helped 1,000,000 people build a life they love.” Those words helped to steer me through all of the uncertainty and emotion around the near-firing, and more specifically helped me to know that my move to BOOST gave me a much more direct sight line on how I could actually accomplish my Moonshot.
But let’s talk a bit about what I wrote in January (and by correction, May) of 2018, and what happened across the course of the next two years. I joined my friends Brie Roper and Laura Eich in the BOOST Sphere as a coach to other Home Office staff members, directly supporting them in building lives that they love. I took over the BIGGBY Freestyle Visioning Tool that Laura and Mike McFall had written and reshaped it into the Moonshot Guidebook. I started making connections, learned a ton, and began to give presentations outside of the world of BIGGBY. I reduced my working hours to a consistent 40–45 hours a week.
And for me, following the process in the Moonshot Guidebook (as not only the Moonshot Guidebook co-author, but also a client!) led me down a path that saw the Guidebook published by Conscious Capitalism Press. That was in process at the beginning of this year, when I wrote this in my Guidebook:
So we’re now living into that picture. The Leadership Institute was just a notion that some of us shared at the time I wrote those words. In the depth of the pandemic, the Life You Love Laboratory launched, allowing me to fulfill nearly all of those professional dreams. I am not — yet — consulting with area businesses, and while COVID definitely has persisted longer than I had imagined, putting a damper on my goals for travel, in a few short months, I’ll be visiting at least nine new states on a massive road trip throughout all of the Midwestern states I haven’t yet had the chance to visit.
And if you have any leads on a big parcel of forested land within 30 minutes of Alto, MI, I’m waiting for your call.
Visioning works. Keeping your dreams in front of you leads to their realization. This is a window in on just one aspect of my personal vision, and I plan to share more examples in the future.
My ask is that you get started today. Don’t content yourself with daydreaming. That’s a nice escape, but it’s more like trying to win a dream lottery than actually engaging in a process that will reliably get you closer to your dreams. So grab your notebook and start writing. If you’re building a business, get a copy of The E-Myth Revisited. If you want a resource with the structure to turn your dreams into day-by-day action, get yourself a copy of The Moonshot Guidebook. Whatever your path, just get moving. You can take life as it comes or you can take control. It’s truly your choice! I’m excited to see what you come up with!