What Fuels Your Vision?

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sean Wolfington - Also by this author

Dreamers are the leaders of the world and the revolutionaries of our industry. By “dreamer” I really mean a person who dares to set out and accomplish a central purpose and vision in their life. Those without vision easily fall prey to worry, fear, trouble and self-pity, all of which indicate weakness and serve as precursors to failure. The leader who treasures a grand vision is more likely to realize his or her lofty ideal than someone who merely wishes for an outcome, but a vision does not guarantee success. Christopher Columbus treasured a vision of a new world and he discovered it; Nelson Mandela cherished a vision of equality and he was willing to go to prison and even to die for it; Henry Ford cultivated a vision of affordability and he mass produced it. The visionaries represent the potential of what you can one day be, but to determine whether or not your vision will materialize into reality you need to ask what fuels it.

While success cannot be sustained without vision, vision is not enough to achieve success. Why do some visions succeed and others fail? Why do some “visionaries” enjoy fleeting success only to fail in the end? Does failure to accomplish the desired result equate to ultimate failure or does the strength of character gained provide the true measure of success from which to form a new starting point for future triumph? What determines the staying power of a leader’s vision? The answer to those questions depends on the leader’s ability to clarify the vision, but more importantly, it depends on what inspired the vision. All that a person achieves and all that he or she fails to achieve is the direct result of the clarity and the fuel of his or her own thoughts. Fuel comes in two varieties: positive and negative. Our visions are fueled by a desire to build a model of what we seek (positive) or by a burning desire to avoid and prevent the pain that stems from injustice and frustration (negative).

Think of the visionaries you know personally and I’ll bet that the most persuasive and persistent of the bunch are those who are fueled by a burning vision of what could be or a problem they want to solve or a dream they want to achieve. Many of these people have had what I call a “Popeye moment.” Popeye was a regular guy until someone threatened Olive Oyl at which point he’d tear open a can of spinach and cry out, “I’ve taken all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” With muscles bulging, he’d save the day and rescue Olive from her tormentor every time. A leader of great conviction has had his or her Popeye moment, has experienced injustice and chooses to confront it and change it.

Rather than run from what pains them, great leaders embrace that which breaks their heart; using those experiences to fuel their vision of what could be. In our industry, a Popeye moment might arrive after years of experiencing the anger, frustration and distrust that customers can bring into your showroom. A Popeye moment might come after too many long hours on the point, too much internal conflict with other people at the dealership and too much internal and external negativity. A Popeye moment might come when a family member, friend or stranger makes one more rotten comment, sarcastic joke or show of disapproval at your choice of profession. In our industry, a person either succumbs to the negative stereotypes, eventually perpetuating them, or has a Popeye moment and uses the injustice so prevalent in the car business to fuel a vision of what could be. The next time you experience pain and injustice at the dealership, I challenge you to seize a Popeye moment and become the change you want to see. Use your frustration to fuel your vision and you’ll increase the staying power of your own success.
Vol 3, Issue 2

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