When you were growing up, there was a vision planted in your head of what you wanted to be. Was it an astronaut exploring deep space, a rock star playing to a crowd of thousands, or perhaps a world-renowned painter? As we turn the clock forward to the present, we’d call these visions dreams. Were they just dreams though, or could they have been ends. The action we were taking was not just dreaming, but defining the end: the end of a journey, the end of a voyage, the end of a struggle…the end of an era.
Why was this exercise so easy for us to do when we were young and still developing, but now it would appear so difficult? The Internet has spawned leagues of new dreamers, but these dreams don’t define the end. Instead we find ourselves muddling about in the middle somewhere with hopes that the end is somehow defined for them.
Think now what it would be like, it we started at the end. Brainstorming is still a valid exercise to get you there, but start at the end. Writers like Jim Collins, author of “From Good to Great” believed that one of the key factors of a company making the leap was having a visionary leader. What do we define as vision? The vision is what they saw at the end. Steve Jobs, considered one of the true modern visionaries at Apple, didn’t see a device that played music. He saw 1,000 songs in your pocket, and the ability for anyone in the world to connect with the best musicians on the planet. In essence, he saw the end, before worrying about the beginning. Steve Jobs mission then became how his work would make that end possible, profitable, and sustainable.
For many business minds this idea of starting at the end is an over simplification, that lacks the depth of actually being applied as best practice. However, look at the state of many of the Internet companies that are around today. Twitter has created a massive audience, a platform for millions of people to connect and share ideas in 140 characters or less. This is merely the middle for Twitter, as they are struggling to come up with a proper revenue model to make the company sustainable, and profitable. Their problem now is simple. They are struggling to define the end.
Does this mean we should stop dreaming? Stop reaching for the stars? Stop trying to reach the impossible? Not on your life. We instead need to restructure how we dream. When an author sits down to write a book, they have an idea of a conclusion; an ending or an idea of how to bring the beginning and middle together in nirvana. The Internet has built the dream that anything is possible. Let us not forget that even in this indefinable anything that we have created, that it too needs an ending.
Let that ending be as large as life itself. Let that ending reach beyond the reality, and define your business to achieve that ending. How do you know where to shoot without a target? The ending is your bull’s-eye. Aim true.