Follow Your Vision, Not Someone Else’s

Warwick Fairfax

August 24, 2021

Life can be confusing.  We are trying to figure out who we are and the direction we should go.  Get a job, buy a house, have a family.  So many things to do.  So many obligations.  So many expectations.  Who has the time to figure out — still less, follow — your own vision?

Much easier (and frankly, much safer) to follow someone else’s vision, or some organization’s vision.  Besides, visions are typically impractical.  Pie-in-the-sky stuff. Let’s get real.

For many, life can be confusing and hectic.  We are often pulled by the expectations of others.  We are told by our parents and our friends, even by our teachers and those at work, who we are.  Overtly and subtly, what we can’t do and can’t be is reinforced.  Dreamers, those with hopes and ideas of what could be, are rarely encouraged.  We are told that life is not about being happy, or even fulfilled.  Life is hard.  Get used to it.  Suck it up. In the meantime we are meant to make other people happy, working hard to fulfill someone else’s purpose and vision.

Life may not be easy, but it does not need to be this way, where our dreams and vision do not matter, and we feel who we are is unappreciated, even ignored.  Here are some thoughts about how we find our vision and begin to point our life in a fulfilling direction that satisfies the deep longing in our soul.

1. Believe we are worth it!

The foundation of living a life rooted in our vision, following our path, not other people’s, is believing that we have inherent value and worth.  My faith tradition says God loves us because of who we are, irrespective of what we do or don’t do.  We have inherent value and worth as human beings.  Believe that! Own that!

2. Know our vision is worth it – and act on that knowledge!

Too often we believe that we are not worthy of respect, or worse of being loved. We feel that our vision, our hopes and dreams, are not worth pursuing.  It is better to follow someone else’s vision, or worse, still be part of no vision at all.

3. Don’t compare visions!

It is easy to think, “Who are we to dream big or to have any vision at all?”  We may feel so unimportant or so under qualified compared to people who are trying to bring clean water to people in Africa or find a way to cure particular kinds of cancer. Our vision, our dream, might seem so small and might help only hundreds or even just a few dozen people.  The size of the impact we feel our vision has should not be the focus.  We should instead pursue what is on our heart.  Who do we want to help?  What do we want to do with our one and only life?  Again, from my faith perspective, God does not look at the size of the vision or even the size of the impact.  God looks at the heart.  It is our intentions, our heart behind our actions that matter.

4. Don’t fear failure!

It is easy to think what if we fall short?  Won’t we be humiliated?  But what if we succeed? Think of who might be helped.  If we try and fail, so what?  God, or whatever divine or spiritual force you believe in, or your inner soul, is not focused on whether you succeed.  It is the fact that your heart spurred you to try.  From that perspective you have won already.  You listened to your inner calling and moved in light of that.  That alone is victory.

5. Surround yourself with believers!

By this I mean, people who believe in you.  There are many, some even well intentioned, who will tell us just to give up.  Our vision is impractical.  It is not possible.  We are not qualified.  We won’t get funding.  We will get paid little or nothing.  Just stop.  But think of what it would look like if we surrounded ourselves with people who believed in us and our vision.  People who said we can do it.  Who encouraged us to try. Who tell us it is possible.  And perhaps even offer to help?

6. Vision steps.

As I write about in my book and elsewhere on my website, finding our vision starts with understanding our wiring. What talents do we have?  We could be mathematical engineering types, artists, salespeople.  The diversity of skills and aptitudes are many.  Then often a vision is birthed in a crucible, a devastating setback or failure.  Perhaps we want to make sure no one ever goes through what we did.  Or if they do, we want to help them recover.  Perhaps we have a burning passion that asks, wouldn’t it be amazing if this happened?  It could be a new business or a nonprofit.  Either way, we should be off-the-charts passionate about this idea, this vision.  Next we need a group of fellow travelers, who believe in our vision.  They believe in our vision so much, they feel like it is really as much their vision as ours.

Life not guided by these principles can be difficult. I learned that firsthand.

Growing up in a large 150-year-old family media business in Australia, I always felt my desires, hopes and dreams were irrelevant.  Having my own vision seemed a non-issue.  My life only had value if I was serving the greater good of the family media business, and keeping it going for future generations.  Besides, it was a big vision.  A media company that had newspapers that were the U.S. equivalent of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal was part of a huge vision.  A vision started by my great-great grandfather John Fairfax.

But as great a vision as his vision to have a newspaper beholden to no party that would advocate for the then young colony of Australia was, it was not my vision.  I had to learn over time that as much as I respected my great great grandfather, my parents and my other ancestors,  my vision was just as worthwhile as theirs.The size or impact of my vision did not matter as much as being true to what from my perspective, God was laying on my heart.

For me, as I mention in my book and elsewhere, it started with believing I had worth.  After losing a $2.25B family media business that was not easy. But I had family and friends who believed in me, and I actually  found my vision rooted in my crucible of losing the failed takeover that cost me the family business.  Through my writing and podcasts, I have a passion to help others bounce back from their crucibles.  To realize that their worst day does not define them.

The key thing to remember is that following your vision is not selfish.  We were all put on the earth for a reason, from my perspective by God.  Following our vision, irrespective of the size of the impact we think it might have, is not selfish at all.  Following our vision, that divine spark, that call from our inner soul, honors who we were made to be.

It gives us and our lives purpose and meaning.  It is integral to what we call living a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others.  It is indeed integral to having a life of joy and fulfillment.  It helps us look to tomorrow not with dread or with a silent sadness, but with expectation and joy.  Why would we not want to look to tomorrow with a sense of such excited expectation?

Reflection

  • What is the lie you have been told or you are telling yourself about your self worth?
  • Decide today that you do indeed have worth, and that your vision — no matter what it is — has value and worth.
  • What one step will you take today to bring your vision to light, a vision that will make a difference in the world, no matter how big or small?

Leave a Comment