4 Ways to Think Like a Visionary

by Julian Ryder, Founder + Chief Creative Officer

In 2002, Apple Computer created a television commercial called “Crazy Ones” with the slogan “Think Different.” The commercial featured some of the most prolific thinkers and artists of the 20th century including Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Thomas Edison, Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso and others. The ad begins “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The Rebels. The troublemakers.” And ends with “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” Steve Jobs, who could have easily been included in this elite group, was one of the crazy ones and he arguably changed the world. He didn’t do it by picking the low hanging fruit or being status quo, he chose to blaze his own trails and follow his instincts. He did this at all times and under all circumstances. Here are 4 ways to think like a visionary.

1. A visionary sees possibility where others see no possibility.

What made Steve Jobs such a visionary was his ability to think in a way that challenged the status quo. He declared things to be possible where there was no evidence or history to support his declaration. Possibility is what drove the innovation, design and engineering breakthroughs that enabled him to change the world.

2. In the face of adversity visionaries become empowered.

When confronted with impossible odds most people just give up. The opposite is true of visionaries—they become empowered. Adversity fuels their vision, encourages risk taking and gives them access to new ways of acting and thinking. Ultimately, It enables them to stand in a place and see things others don’t.

3. Visionaries surround themselves with people who challenge them.

Despite the fact that he was the boss, Steve Jobs was smart enough to have a team that stood up to him when they thought he was going down the wrong path—which was most of the time.

Visionaries create contexts for bringing something new into existence; frames of reference that include all points of view, good and bad—so that any and all input always became part of the solution.

4. A visionary builds consensus through enrollment.

Steve Jobs was known for building consensus, he was a master of sales and persuasion and he was relentless. He had the ability to share his vision in such a way that people would eventually see the possibility. He did this until he reached a critical mass, enough people aligned with him so that the rest could do nothing but join in.

The results Steve Jobs produced as a visionary can’t be denied as demonstrated by how we now interact with the world around us. What about you, are you a visionary?