Life Advice

Combine Life Vision and Life Strategy
Enhance motivation and success by combining "Big-Picture" thinking with practical planning
Best Life Advisors

Stephen Kraus



Example: Steve Jobs

Starting in his parents’ garage, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Computer, and began the personal computer revolution.

But Jobs was ousted from Apple before the company’s greatest successes in the mid-80s. He excelled in creating and communicating an idealistic vision of the future, but fell short in managing people, developing a corporate strategy, and steering the company toward profitability. Jobs was a visionary, not a strategist. His triumphant return to Apple in the late 1990s was possible only because he had enhanced his skills as a strategist. >>>


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Vision Alone Is Not Enough

The example of Steve Jobs illustrates the distinction between vision and strategy, and highlights that lasting success comes from having a compelling vision of what you want to achieve and developing a strategy for making that vision a reality.

Having only one or the other leads to underachievement. In fact, many well-known entrepreneurs suffered from the Jobs syndrome – being a visionary and with relatively weak strategic skills – and suffered the same fate of being cast out of the company they founded. Many high-profile dot-com failures suffered from the corporate equivalent of the Jobs syndrome, with lofty visions (e.g., “the Internet will reshape the business world, and we’re going to be a part it…”) but poor strategies (“… so let’s sell dog food online!”).

On an individual level, the Jobs syndrome underlies several types of psychological dysfunction; perfectionists and procrastinators, for example, both tend to have ideals so lofty or daunting that no strategy could possibly be successful, leading to broader patterns of anxiety and avoidance.

The same combination of high-minded ideas with the inability to put them into action is seen from television characters like Kramer on Seinfeld to social archetypes such as “hopeless romantics” and “absent-minded professors.”

True success only comes from a combination of vision and strategy

  • Henry Ford, for example, not only had a vision of an America reshaped by affordable automobiles, but also a highly successful strategy built around mass production and mass marketing.

  • Throughout history, successful business ventures – from Ted Turner’s CNN to Steve Case’s America OnLine to Bill Gates’ Microsoft to Oprah Winfrey’s inspirational empire – have all been made possible by the combination of vision and strategy, of insight and execution.

  • Social and religious leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. had the same combination – an inspiring vision of what society could be, and strategies based on civil disobedience for helping make that vision a reality.

Vision and strategy are both required for success in daily life as well, as illustrated in a study conducted by James Pennebaker at Southern Methodist University. He identified three kinds of people:

“high-level thinkers” who consistently focused on important issues of vision – their lives, identities, expectations for the future, and so on

“low-level thinkers” who consistently focused on mundane concerns and daily obligations, and

“flexible thinkers” who engaged in both high-level and low-level thinking. Flexible thinkers were found to have the best physical health and the lowest rates drug and alcohol use. Success and good health result from both high-level thinking about issues of vision, as well as more detailed, lower-level planning about how to achieve that vision.

To get the most out of life, ask yourself if you have both a vision and a strategy. Think about your vision for your future – Do you really know what you want to achieve? Have you really thought about who you want to become? And what about your strategy for getting there – Have you set goals? Have your written down your goals? Have you made plans for success? Clarifying both your vision and strategy will help maximize your motivation and your success, not to mention your health and happiness