Visioning — Author Interview with Glenn A. Williams

Published on
February 6, 2017
Sara Saddington
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
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Glenn A. Williams is the founder of nLIVEn, a consulting company based in Melbourne Australia, and the author of the recent book Visioning: Creating the Life of Your Dreams. The book provides a step-by-step guide to help readers create a personal vision of success. Williams will guide and inspire you to create a clear vision of a successful, prosperous, happy future.

1. Why did you decide to write a book on Visioning?

Since launching nLIVEn back in 2000, visioning has been one of the most important techniques I have used with clients to help them successfully navigate change. I know that both from my own experience of seeing people enliven their lives and businesses but also from our end of program client surveys, where people consistently report that visioning was one of the most important and enjoyable parts of their Professional Partnership Program.

Over that time, I’ve noticed that visioning comes quite naturally to some people but presents a real challenge for others. It is not always easy to deal with oneself, when it comes to generating clarity in the face of uncertainty. It is not uncommon to encounter strong levels of internal resistance, self-sabotage and confusion as people grapple with the demands of adapting to change. This can be particularly pronounced for people that have a strongly analytical mind. In practical terms, this translated into some clients needing to meet with me 4-8 times (and very occasionally even more) before I could persuade them to “let go” and surrender to the process of visioning—to “let come” new ideas, impressions and impulses about where they wanted to next lead themselves and/or their enterprises.

In that sense, I saw a missing link. Most of the tools I had found and used with clients focused on the “how” of visioning. They were comprised of a series of provocative questions to uncover someone’s vision but they assumed that the user accepted that they needed to engage in visioning in the first place. This lead me to conceive the idea that a book on visioning that focused primarily on the “what” and “why” of visioning, and secondarily on the “how” of visioning, was needed. Such a book could accelerate the rate at which people would prepare themselves to engage with visioning. If done well, such a book could compress the learning curve required for developing the capacity for visioning. If done very well, such a book could empower people to create a powerful and provocative vision without the assistance of a professional coach or mentor. It would demand a book written from the heart that could also persuade the heads of its readers. However, that is the essential challenge those who lead face daily—how to connect with ourselves and others in meaningful ways that mobilize resources to achieve change.

2. I understand that the focus of your work is assisting people with their professional lives. I am curious why you wrote a book focused on helping people with their personal lives?

Teaching people how to work on the generation of their personal vision improves their capacity to contribute to the development of their vision for the organization in which they work. In my mind, someone’s vision for their career and their vision for the organization in which they currently work are subsets of their long-term personal vision for their life. For example, in 5-10 years’ time, someone might see themselves in a different role at work, working at a different company, living in a different city, living with a different life partner, etc.

Visioning is a leadership capacity for adapting to change. A new level of personal leadership is a precursor to a new level of interpersonal leadership. Our capacity to lead others is deeply grounded in our own level of clarity and confidence about the future. Improving someone’s ability to adapt, which I call their AdaptAbility, lies at the heart of my research, practice and writing.

In this respect, it is not uncommon for my work and writing to intersect and contribute to the personal and professional development of people. Said another way, if someone grows to become a “bigger” person, their capacity to come to the office and contribute to the achievement of “bigger” things is naturally enhanced.

3. So how did the process of visioning apply to the creation of the book Visioning?

One of the things I did not necessarily get into explaining within the content of book, is the impact a well-articulated vision has on your capacity to fulfil your vision. When other people can see and connect with your vision, they help you further augment and enrich your vision. In this respect, successive iterations of the 4D process for visioning that I outlined in the book are initiated – you start discovering new dimensions of your vision, all over again.

It’s analogous to the process of creating your dream home. Imagine you came up with a concept of what you would like to create. Then you go to an architect, who imagines your vision and brings it to life on paper, a computer screen or as a physical 3D model. Then you go to an engineer or draftsman, who devises how to achieve your vision via a detailed set of plans, that include precise measurements and specifications. Then you commission a builder to literally transform your plans into three dimensions. Finally, a quality surveyor or building inspector comes along and makes sure that your dream home has been constructed in accordance with the approved plans.

After I had written Visioning, I sat down with one of my graphic designers and explained to her my vision for the book. I explained to Helen that I envisaged a visually stunning, landscape format, hardcover, coffee table style book. However, I explained to her, I was not sure where to start in terms of the look and feel of the book as a product. I had a long list of unanswered questions.

  • Should we consider artistic style paintings or photography for the imagery?
  • What kind of color palette should we use?
  • How would we approach the front cover?
  • Would I include visual diagrams or restrict myself to a style that was more like a long-from letter, from author to reader?
  • Which software platform should be used for the design work – iBooks Author, Adobe InDesign, MS Word, Quark…?

Helen took my words, applied her creative process and came back to me with most of the design elements that feature in the book you see today. She curated the imagery, suggested the inclusion of a stencil, and laid out the front cover. Other graphic designers in my team subsequently added a range of refinements and finishing touches to help craft the final product, but 80% of the look and feel was contributed by Helen based on a clear vision from me combined with her wonderful creative talents at interpreting a client’s brief.

In the book Visioning, I encourage readers to focus on just the “what” and “why” of their vision. The creative process of visioning demands that you suspend any considerations about the “how” of achieving our vision, temporarily.

There are lots of wonderful people who can help with the “how” that show up along the way, once you resolve to fulfil your vision.

Have you created your vision for the future? Williams has created a self-assessment tool that you can use to get feedback into the strength of your vision.