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Dream vs. Vision: A Mind-Shift For Visionary Leaders by: Michael Skye

Editor's Note: Whenever one talks about leadership or strategic planning, there's always lively discussion about what a vision (or vision statement) is, and how it differs from other related topics. This article examines the difference between a vision and a dream.

What is the difference between a dream and a vision?

The dreams you see while asleep at night are a metaphor for the kind of thinking that happens when you fantasize while awake. We often call this "day dreaming" or creative imagination.

The vision you see when you are awake and looking at reality with your eyes is a metaphor for the kind of thinking that happens when you look to your future with your mind's eye. The inner world (past, present and future) you see is built from your own assumptions or metaphorical constructs. With this kind of vision, you can "look" down different paths, and "see" what would happen.

When we speak of dreams and vision in this article, we're referring to the dreams and vision you see inside your mind while awake. We all have such dreams and vision; and both are an integral function of human consciousness.

For visionaries, vision is a major source of power and conscious guidance - and it's something they consciously control. For others, vision is a major source of fear and default guidance - and it's something to which they unconsciously react.

To be a visionary, and thus have a higher level of inner power to change and create the world around you, one must learn to live at the level of vision.


Dream - What you see when you are imagining a hypothetical scenario.

Vision - What you see when you look to the future without hypothesizing, wishing or imagining.


Imagine that you're on vacation at the Grand Canyon, and you're standing on the edge of the cliff with your binoculars, looking far off into the distance. Suddenly, on the other side of the Grand Canyon, you see what looks like a jet, and a man in a suit standing by the jet. Then all of a sudden, the man's hair just kind of flips sideways up into the air. And you think to yourself "Wait a minute, is that Donald Trump?"

Just then you remember he's doing a new reality TV show called "Who Wants My Money," where he goes to an obscure public location and holds up a sign that says, "Who wants my money?" and then gives one million dollars to the first person to reach him. "No, can't be The Donald," you're telling yourself, when it happens - the sign goes up - it's him!

In that instant, you realize "I could win the money!" and you turn to bolt for your car just in time to see everyone else heading for their cars. In that moment, you remember you came on the bus. You turn back and look over at Donald there with his sign, and you dream about winning that money. It's an exciting dream, but it's not very real. You won't win the money.

Then you hear it. That sound... behind you... it's... your helicopter. You turn around and see your pilot, who will take you anywhere you want to go. Then, in that instant, you turn back around with a smile, you look at Donald Trump and you know that money is yours. You're already spending it in your mind.

So, there's a big difference between a dream and a vision. A vision has a power that a dream doesn't have.


Let's say you have a personal dream of being a public speaker one day. Every time you get the opportunity to speak in public, whether it's among friends, in classrooms or at events, you feel a little too nervous to speak. It doesn't seem like you're ready yet, and you turn away. After several months of this, you look to your future and what do you see? You don't really see yourself speaking powerfully in the world. You can dream about it all you want, but you can't really see it happening.

Now let's say you come to a point, where you realize your dream is dying and it becomes very painful. You become very clear how much the dream means to you, and you take a hard look at the fears and the challenges of becoming a public speaker. You realize that there are values worth standing for to face those fears and walk that path. You take a stand for the lives of the people you want to reach with your speaking. The next time you are presented with an opportunity to speak, you are terrified, but you stand up and you speak. And the next time, you are scared once more, but you stand and you speak. Soon, you look to your future and you see it--you're speaking around the world. It's not a dream anymore, it's your future. A public speaker is who you are.

So a vision has a totally different quality than a dream. A dream is hypothetical, like "Wouldn't it be nice?" A vision is just what you see. So consider that all of us have a vision of some kind for our life or for our future. It"s simply what we fully expect as we look to tomorrow, to next week, to next year, to our future.


Consider that the "inner" vision we see guides us as much as, if not more than, the "outer vision," or what we see with our eyes. What we see internally gives us our interpretation of the world out there. Whether we walk down one path in life or another is often determined by what we "see" when we "look" down those different paths--and what we then "feel" as a result.

Based on what we see and feel, our logical, we then makes our choices--supported with seemingly rational justifications. What we often fail to realize is how the context for our choices are already given to us by our vision.

To the extent that we can take control of our vision - or live at the level of vision - we can have much more power to lead our lives and create what we want in life and with others - as visionaries.


A skilled visionary, the kind of person who thrives in an ever-changing environment, operates fluidly and openly with the world around her. She doesn't cling to any static or prepackaged view of reality, because she operates on the level of vision. She is a leader, who leads from the power of her own vision.


The more you understand the dynamics of vision, the more you can consciously choose to function at the level of vision--beyond positions, beyond reactions, beyond fear.

The more you practice visionary thinking, the more you naturally operate at the level of vision.


Honestly reflect on your life to see in which areas you are not living powerfully and passionately from a bold vision. In such areas, dramatic positive change seems impossible, impractical or not worth the effort. With a vision, dramatic positive change occurs not only as possible, practical and worth incredible effort--but as "all there is to do." A powerful vision calls you naturally into heroic action.
About Author: As founder of the Vision Force Academy, Michael Skye works with a new breed of impassioned change agents around the world, who are giving their lives to stand for all of humanity. Michael is best known for his transformational leadership trainings, based on his proprietary iStand technology. He authored the the <i><a href=""> Visionary Mind Shifts</a></i> for <a href=""></a>.
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