Think Big – Embrace Visionary Thinking!

Germany Kent once said, You cannot expect people with small ideas to understand, accept, or appreciate your big visions”. Always remember, you will meet those unable to fathom visionary thinking as their minds aren’t wired that way. I will add another quote by Emmanuel Apetsi. He said, “To be a visionary leader, the future must be your home”. Creating and building the future requires leaving the present and living outside of the common thought and ordinary mindset.

I had recent conversations with folks throughout several communities having difficulty thinking beyond what they are used to thinking. They have been stuck in neutral for so long, they find it very hard to shift into overdrive.

Those conversations are common in many local communities.  It begs the question of which is more important, vision or critical thinking? I would respond this way. Without vision and big thinking, there isn’t much need for critical thinking.  It takes no critical thinking to continue doing the same things in the same way, in fact that might better be described as mindless meandering.

The human brain is programmed to take the path of least resistance.  We do this even when we suspect that path doesn’t end well. In the stock market and business world, that would be referred to as the “herd” mentality. I would also add that the herd is rarely correct and has a very poor track record in financial and business environments. Let’s also add community transformation and revitalization to the category of bad endings with a herd mentality.

Why would we add community transformation and revitalization to the mix? Very simple, the system is stacked against local communities in today’s world. Let’s break it down. Government by nature and design are built to move slowly. That is a great strength during normal and routine times.  After all, it keeps communities from making hasty decisions. On the other hand, when unsettling economic times rear their ugly head, the ability to think and move rapidly might be the only difference between ultimate success and failure.

Additionally, the entire National economic system is stacked against local communities and redevelopment as well. The entire economic system in this country is geared to slowly drain resources from local communities and redistribute those resources to larger cities and Wall Street. While some of it is by design, much is unintentional.  When we spend money at any non-local business, those dollars are sent to wherever that corporate headquarters might be, leaving your community forever. I should note, this isn’t always bad, many services and products can only be acquired this way.  However, when the dollars leaving the community through big boxes, chains, and out-of-town owned businesses exceed those staying in the community, the outlook is predictably not very bright.

How does vision play into all of this?  As we mentioned above, thinking small coupled with lack of vision will be the final nail in any local community coffin. To battle the impact of the government, economic realities, and any other roadblocks, communities need a healthy dose of forward-thinking and vision. Thinking small and having vision is an oxymoron.  Many traditional leaders tend to focus on issues that do nothing to solve the real problem facing communities which is the need for rapid change led by vision.

Focusing on new events, courting new local businesses, growing your revitalization efforts, developing sales tax enhancing strategies, enhancing your shop-local education, creating tourism strategies and common-sense economic development are a must.  Rapid change is the only way out for communities stuck in a financial or revenue rut to effectively overcome small minds, complacency, and tradition.  Traditional foundations run deep.  Rapid change rocks the foundation, overwhelming the old guard quickly.

Let’s be clear, rapid change is rarely perfect at first.  Things will go wrong. Don’t allow small or mediocre minds to make mountains out of molehills.  Point out things that deviate from the plan, correct them quickly, but always focus on the end vision. Don’t get swayed by small minds dwelling on what amounts to small things in the grand picture.  That mentality has destroyed and continues to destroy local communities. Remember and understand that perfect will always be the enemy of great!

Always remember the progression of nearly any transformational task. First you work hard and become good. Then you refine and make that great. Next, you continue to strive for perfection. Don’t get obsessed with perfection, as we just stated, perfect is the enemy of great and is rarely achieved.  Settle for greatness any day.

John Newby is a nationally recognized Publisher, Community, Chamber, Business & Media strategic consultant & speaker. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column runs 60+ communities around the country. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists community leaders, businesses and local media to build synergies creating more vibrant communities. He can be reached at:

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