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Picture Success with Visioning

Over the summer I fell in love with a new-to-me podcast called ZigZag, and binged the entire 6 seasons. I considered abandoning it a few times in the first couple of seasons because it was all about a new business venture with blockchain and journalism, and it was difficult to find connection with the content, but I stuck with it and I'm sure glad I did. The episodes just got better and better as they began exploring topics around identity, relationships, entrepreneurship and re-imagining a better future. The guests were interesting and the conversations I was hearing left me feeling invigorated and inspired, a feeling I'd all but lost over the pandemic.

One particularly powerful episode was in Season 4 when Manoush & Jen interviewed Ari Weinzweig, the co-founder of a small Michigan deli in the 1980's who is now running a multimillion dollar gourmet business collective. He speaks about how his company has adopted visioning as a way to picture what they want success to look like on large and small-scale projects. As I listened to the episode, I couldn't help but think of how beneficial an intentional practice like this might be to the success of a school day, unit of study, or when planning for professional development with faculty.

So What is Visioning?

From what I understand, and believe me I'm no expert, visioning is the act of writing a vivid description of the destination in its most ideal state. It's a mental exercise of picturing success for a future project or endeavor and then describing it in as much detail as possible; what it looks like and how it feels. For Ari and his company, Zingerman's, it's a process that's become second nature and is embedded into their organization's culture at every level. And what I loved most about listening to this episode and then reading up on his blog about visioning afterwards was how applicable these ideas and practices are to me, both personally and professionally. If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in this blog post, Why and How Visioning Works.

Testing it out

My first go at this exercise happened late in the summer when I reached season 6 of the podcast and was challenged to reflect on my values, purpose and the way I want my personal and professional future play out. Even more challenging was to go through the act of writing it out in detail. Here's the assignment:

As difficult as this exercise was, it was tremendously grounding and valuable, especially with all the vulnerability and mixed emotions I'd been living with after being separated from my other half for nearly a year while he is displaced in the US. It was nice to allow myself the time and space to imagine a happier, healthier future without dwelling on the present over which I have absolutely no control. I encouraged my hubby to do the assignment with me so we could share and compare our future visions, but he was in too dark a place, and I empathize. Anyway, I had a great experience with it, and decided to apply it to my work context in the new school year. Fast forward a few weeks to a professional development planning meeting... the perfect opportunity to apply visioning at work!

Photo of a journal page
Visioning Professional Development

The Verdict

If you scroll back to my previous post about the Amazing Race PD that I facilitated a couple of weeks back, you can see how the event turned out versus how I envisioned it. I have to admit I was giddy with excitement as I went back and read this earlier today because, honestly, I NAILED IT! Obviously, I'm a little backward in my blogging because I should have posted this one prior to that, but it's pretty neat to see either way. Also, because I have several professional learning sessions planned over the next 2-3 months, I thought it was a good reminder to start the planning process with this activity. So overall, I'd say I've had a positive experience with visioning so far and will continue to employ this strategy where and when I can.

What about you? Have you ever tried visioning exercises in your personal or professional life? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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