The soul never thinks without a picture. Aristotle
I hope this finds you and your family doing well! I meet a small group of friends every other Friday morning and we attend a men’s program and breakfast called Iron Leadership. Our fellowship is faith based with a purpose to equip men throughout the community to lead in different facets of life. We have spent most of 2017 studying the concept of vision and have defined it as a preferred future. Walt Disney called it Imagineering. In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley defined vision as the sum of Inspiration + Conviction + Action + Determination + Completion. My Grandfather’s term was forward looking.
We all have certain mental pictures of what we want our family, our career, our finances, and recreational life to look like. These are often nurtured by our experiences and influences such as family or friends. When I think of people with vision in the business world, names like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos come to mind. I have bookended 2017 with business conferences out of state where I continue to find intrigue with a vision two young boys from the Midwest used to change the world.
In the fall of 1878, Wilbur and Orville Wright’s Father brought home a rubber band powered, toy helicopter. When he tossed it in the air, the brothers wrote, “Instead of falling to the floor, as we expected, it flew across the room till it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor.” This single experience paved the way for their future accomplishments. Fast forward to October 19, 1903. On this day, Orville Wright wrote in his journal, “We started assembly today.” Ten weeks later, on December 17, 1903 at 10:35 a.m., the Wright Brothers were first in flight, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, just 179 miles northeast of where I sit writing you this letter. The flight was at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour, covered 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds. To make this happen, the Wright Brothers spent $1,000 of their own money including the cost of seven trips to Kitty Hawk from their home in Dayton, Ohio.
Flight was on the mind of several different factions at the beginning of the 20th century. In his book The Wright Brothers, David McCullough writes that Samuel Pierpont Langley spent $70,000, including $50,000 from the United States Army, trying to build an airplane. On December 8, 1903, his experiment failed just nine days before the first flight. The Smithsonian initially honored Langley for being first in flight after another party reconstructed his machine and flew it in 1914. These actions set off a decades long dispute with Orville Wright, the surviving brother (Wilbur passed in 1912). In 1942, the Smithsonian finally acknowledged the Wright Brothers place in history and the original Wright Flyer was returned from a London Science Museum display for $1. Interestingly, Langley Air Force Base and NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia and several warships are named after Samuel Langley.
Vision is contagious and compounding in nature. The Wright Brothers led to Tony Jannus who, in 1914, flew the first commercial airline flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa Bay, FL. Then, in 1961, President John Kennedy proposed the goal, “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” As we know, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, 239,000 miles from Earth, 8 years later and less than 66 years after the first flight. Today, visionaries such as Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are pioneering private space travel with an effort to eventually colonize the Moon and Mars. I know what you’re thinking. Sounds crazy, right? My guess is it happens sooner than we can imagine.
Last, I believe vision is courageous. A lot of times, it means going against the grain into unfamiliar territory or even societal norms. It typically coincides with a stretching of our comfort zone to grow with new people, ideas and activities without the promise of success. It means taking a risk, and, at times, failing. This same failure is often the foundation upon which future successes are built.
Technology is making the world smaller and our future brighter when harnessed for a greater good. I believe we must resist the urge of continuously living with devices in our hands and staring at screens. Ideas, like other joys in life, need space to develop and time to breathe. Author, speaker and former pastor, Rob Bell states, “Human beings have never had as much effort, capital, money, expertise and creativity being spent to fill all of those little gaps and moments of maybe boredom that happen throughout the day. Moments when you might spend time reflecting, pondering, wondering, processing, feeling and gaining insight in understanding about what is present within you.” Science suggests that quietly spending time in thought cultivates peace, clarity and trains the brain to become more open-minded.
Today, we see endless contrails paint ribbons in the sky though, in totality, the Wright Brothers feat was virtually yesterday. Have you shared your vision with the people that are important to you? Especially with future generations as they are our leaders of tomorrow and can gain valuable insight to help themselves and others. One person has the influence to change a family tree, I have seen it happen many times. At other times, it has changed the world.
When I fly, I love the window seat. It is worth significantly more than the price of the ticket alone. The window seat allows you to see the world from a different perspective. My personal vision is to live a life of grounded centeredness rather than one of balance. I equate a centered life with joy, contentment and gratitude whereas balance can be a state of constant disequilibrium, competitiveness and comparison. Quite simply, I want to live a long, healthy and purpose filled life surrounded by the people and places I love and my favorite activities.
I am grateful for my life’s work and find it immensely rewarding internally. I enjoy spending time with you as we work together to pursue the goals and visions you have for yourself and your family. As always, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your family and for being a part of ours. We hope your 2017 holiday season is the best ever and look forward to a prosperous 2018!
Tim Evans CFP® CLTC
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