Envisioning a goal is often step one

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 3/12/19

I believe I’ve mentioned before that my son, now age 12, spends a lot of time watching YouTube videos. And many of them are of the useless, brainless entertainment variety. And that’s okay — …

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Envisioning a goal is often step one


I believe I’ve mentioned before that my son, now age 12, spends a lot of time watching YouTube videos. And many of them are of the useless, brainless entertainment variety. And that’s okay — frankly, they’re probably no different, no better or no worse than anything that’s on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon these days.

But a lot of what he’s been watching lately is of a completely different variety. For about a year now, he’s been watching a lot of videos of soccer players doing crazy trick shots and little skill things. And then he drags me outside to play with him and makes me look silly. It’s really strange — he doesn’t actually practice any of the things he sees, as in, he doesn’t break them down and take them one move at a time or anything. He just tries them. And he’s developed such a good idea of what it’s supposed to look like that, often, he can recreate the things he sees without a lot of effort.

But it all starts with what it’s supposed to look like.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that’s how my dad taught me to golf. He never once took me to the practice range and talked about my hands and the position at address and the takeaway and the shoulder turn or any of that. All he did was put golf on the TV every weekend as I was growing up. I got to learn from Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson and Greg Norman and Ken Venturi just what a good golf swing looks like, and that’s the image that’s in my head now. And I’m no scratch golfer or anything, to be sure. But I can step up to the first tee in early May and at least look like I know what I’m doing right away, because that image has been burned into my brain for forty years.

Notice I didn’t say anything about the first green. Putting is a whole different story. A tragedy. Sometimes comedy. Frequently a horror story.

At any rate, this is all about the beginnings of developing vision. Vision has been one of those clever little buzzwords that people throw around, particularly in the business world, to try to sound thoughtful and strategic. But I find that a lot of people really don’t understand what vision truly is. I think a lot of people start to project what the rewards of success are going to look like, and they confuse that with vision. Thus, the trend a few years ago of building “Vision Boards,” compilations of pictures and images of the spoils of victory.

But I’ve never found that keeping your eye on the reward ever earned anybody the prize. It’s been my experience that the people who enjoy the rewards are the people who spend very little time thinking about their bulletin boards, and spend most of their time thinking about what the endeavor is supposed to look like. In my son’s case, I don’t think he’s ever going to become a pro soccer player by picturing the day he signs a contract — he’s going to become a pro soccer player by learning to pass the ball like David Beckham, to strike the ball out of midair like Christiano Ronaldo, and to control the ball like Lionel Messi. So he watches these guys do their thing, and then, someday, if he puts in the work to make himself look like those guys, someday he’ll be in front of cameras signing a contract.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not denigrating wanting good things. But I’ve never been a fan of the question “what do you want” when the correct question is “what are you willing to do to get what you want?” Know what YOU are supposed to look like as you are achieving your dream, and the stuff around you will take care of itself.

“Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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