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How to Develop A Vision for Your Life & Business

In Conversation with Dave Jones

For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser hosted Dave Jones, Founder and CEO of M is Good. Dave discusses how to better match your purpose and vision with your strategies for success by applying some of the lessons he has learned and written about in his book, Vision Wins: Seven Strategies for Mental Toughness in Life and Sports. Watch now for some great lessons for business and life.

If you have something in your spirit that you feel is in your gut that you must do, then it’s probably part of your vision.

Dave Jones
Founder and CEO of M is Good
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of Ecoffee with Experts. I'm your host, Matt Fraser. And on today's show, I have with me a very special guest, Dave Jones. Dave is the Founder and CEO of M is Good, a Christian Digital Marketing and Web Design agency headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also a Sports Consultant who coaches CEOs, executives, and professional athletes to help achieve their vision by executing and developing mental skills training and enhancing thought blocking techniques. He also helps them with their strategy, execution, and communication skills, as well as managing gaps between employees and management. Dave is the author of Vision Wins: Seven Strategies for Mental Toughness in Life and Sports. And he served four years in the United States Air Force. He and his wife Laura currently reside in Raleigh, North Carolina, and they have two young boys. Dave, thanks for being on the show.

Thanks for having me, man.

So Dave, you seem to have created quite an interesting means of helping people develop their development skills, business development skills, and a vision for their life. It has led you to write the book Vision Wins Seven Strategies for Mental Toughness in Life and Sports. So why did you decide to write the book?

It’s a great question. I’ve wanted to write a book for probably five or six years. I’ve been on several projects where I’ve been the lead agent on a book or a few books. So I don’t have a publishing background at all or a hockey background. So it surrounded a mentor of mine by the name of Bruce Barber, and he and I did several projects. And I just knew I wanted to do a book that was more of a fable than seven strategies, like pulling a story. And it was my relationship with Bruce, where we had worked on a project together, and I said, Hey, man, if we ever do a book, I want you to be the editor. And so he was a former president of Thomas Nelson, and he’s written books that have sold more than 50 million copies. He is an awesome man of God. And so the timing was right, and I worked on it for about a good two years. I followed John Gordon’s format. If you are familiar with any of his books, I had an opportunity to host him through an FCA hockey event. And then he laid out how to write a book, or how he wrote a book. And I thought that was interesting. He always knows the principles you want to teach. And I have RS Seven, so I knew I wanted to communicate our seven. And he told me that he looks for different places in his life where he can have the setting and praise that setting and place praise on that character. He rolls out all the characters and a Mind Meister, rolling it out graphically who the players are. He builds out the personas and personalities, and he lives his life in the location of where it’d be. So he builds out that whole plot and character, allows it to sit and prays over it, and then writes. So it only takes him about a week or two to write the book. And so I followed that same format and worked on it for a year or so, laying everything out. And now, don’t get me wrong. I rewrote it 17 times after my editor, Bruce, got a hold of it. But laying down the initial plot and getting everything down took about a week.

Plus all your life experiences that it probably took to compile the content to put the book together. I'm assuming he wrote it in a week, but it was probably 20 years of preparation?

For sure. RS Seven has taken 13 years to really fine tune.

I don't know if you want to talk about that now or later. I'm guessing my audience is probably interested to hear about that. So you developed an RS seven framework for developing vision. Is that correct?

Yeah. So RS Seven is the first step in what is the purpose? Now, if you’re listening, your purpose is to glorify the Lord with your talents and abilities. So you know what that is? And so, from destiny or purpose, we go to vision. What is the vision? And so the checklist for vision goes through this in the Vision Wins book. Still, a checklist for your vision is this short, portable, easy to understand, memorable, inspiring statement at 7-11 words with no conjunctions.

So these are things that even a business could go through, correct?

Oh, 100%? Yeah. So we had our purpose, then we had our vision. And then, from the vision, we’re going to build a strategy. From the strategy, we’re going to build the brand. From the brand, we’re going to communicate. We’ll pray about those steps, and then we’ll take action. So that’s our seven, destiny, vision, strategy, brand, communication, prayer, and action. So in my work with executives, it is good. So often, we get to the action, let’s go, go, go. And what the seven does is allows us to slow down, find the tip of the spear in the messaging, and understand the vision and why we’re doing things. And then, from there, we can build out the design elements or the communication elements. So,  that’s the big picture of what our seven is.

So what is vision, and how does it apply to your life?

Oh, man, you’re coming out hard with all these great questions. So, everybody’s got vision. First, start there, everybody’s got a vision now that if you look up, I would say all the things that I’ve done in my life. If I would say that I was skilled at anything, it’s probably vision, and understanding what it is and how we apply it. I’ve studied this biblically and on the secular level over the years. Your Harvard Business Review, Gallup, or the Sports Psychology Journals, because it’s big in that as well. But let’s first start with- there are eight types of different visions. So the vision that I like to talk about is his true vision statement. So you can have a thought, you can be driving down the road and go, Oh, my gosh, I forgot to do that. That’s a vision. But the vision I like to talk about is a vision statement. It’s that view of what I will do seven to 10 years from now? And that’s going to motivate me and inspire me. I’ve worked on some cool vision statements over the years, and it rallied the organization. And it’s put a why behind why we do things. And so uncovering that vision is sometimes harder and sometimes easier for people, depending on how transparent people are. I like to say that we all have certain things that we deal with. Everybody does. I like to use the acronym FLAP. Everybody’s got fear, lust, anger, and pride. We’re dealing with those anytime you can cut through and get what you want. What’s in your heart? I think a lot of times, we go to School, get good grades, get a job, learn a skill, and we think that’s going to be our passion. According to a Gallup poll, 88% of the US economy is disengaged. We don’t like what we’re doing. And so the idea of the world telling you to go to School, get grades, get a job, and learn a skill is not God’s plan. God’s plan is more about fulfillment, glorifying him, and feeling like a level of self-actualization. That’s what I believe. So we feel fulfilled, you know, there’s a higher purpose. We’re doing things outside of ourselves. And that usually is very motivating.

You know, one of my favorite quotes, and I made my poster. it's on my wall over here, it's called, Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others, which is a quote from Jonathan Swift, who was a 17th-century Catholic priest. And I think it is a type of vision for entrepreneurs. I've always seen it that way. Like, you have created this RS seven framework that was invisible to others. Yet, you've brought these principles into a format that can be used to transform not only people's personal lives but also their businesses, which is quite neat If I might add.

I appreciate that. It’s a process, not a program. So it’s a big difference because it allows us a path to where we need to go. And it relieves a lot of stress when you communicate that to other entrepreneurs or people that need to recalibrate. It’s like, okay, we’ve got a process here, let’s go. Makes it easier to swallow or get down.

What were some of your inspirations for writing this book, besides the gentleman you mentioned earlier? For instance, in some ways, you're triggering my mind right now. I'm thinking about Stephen Covey's book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Even Jordan Peterson has a self-authoring tool where he takes people to walk through developing a vision and process for their lives. And he doesn't claim to be a person of faith, people ask if he believes in God or not, and sometimes doesn't answer the question. But it's just amazing that he's using biblical principles. And yet his book is selling millions of copies worldwide because people are in. And one of the things he talks about is going on a journey and almost taking on responsibility, to give yourself purpose. And, the vision would probably bring about responsibility because if you have a vision of something you want to do, you have to be responsible to get it done. So I'm just curious, were there any other authors besides the gentleman you mentioned that influenced you to put this together?

Seth Godin, Start with Why. That was a very impactful book for me. I think Patrick Lencioni, The Power of Fulfillment was an influential book for me.

You said you did it in a week. That's extraordinary. Was it difficult to stay focused during that week, or did you have to shut the doors and everyone leave you alone?

What’s added to it is that I’m running this business and getting my Doctorate. I am in the third year of my Doctorate doing Performance Psychology, so I did all this while writing, and I just got up a little earlier. So I got up at four in the morning and wrote to seven every day. Then I’d come home from work and write some more. So I spent probably six hours a day writing all the characters and the settings. So I had a plethora of information to pull from. So it was that I had to write.

The foundation was there for you to develop the story. You've already done the storyboarding and all the things you would do, if you're making a movie or designing a website, you got to put the blueprint, the site map together, the content, graphics, and so that was pretty neat. So what are the most important steps for someone to create a vision for their lives? Like is it the Rs Seven framework?

Like it’s certainly helpful. Not everybody has the opportunity to bump into someone like me to walk them through it. I know God is powerful. I love Jesus, and God can walk you through that. I think it’s harder, but not impossible. I think everybody has something they love and are passionate about and would do great. I think where we struggle, we don’t make money doing it. One client said you know what, I don’t make any money doing it. And my response is, but somebody else is. Like in this particular case, it was an actor. I want to be an actor but don’t make any money from it. And I said, Well, somebody else is.

Tom Cruise makes a ton of money from being an actor.

Many actors and actresses are making money. Because you aren’t doesn’t mean there’s no money in it. So it’s letting go of what we’ve been trained in or educating and following your passion. Now, that takes a lot of faith, even worse if you have a  family. So if you’re making $150 to $200,000 a year and hate it because you have people that depend on you to bring them a paycheck, but you don’t like it, we get in a trap. Golden Handcuff is what I call it.

Do you think they shouldn't do more in schools to teach kids to embrace the vision and have a life goal? You and I are the same age, and I don't need to mention how old we are, but going back to School, it's like they didn't teach us anything. And even these kids nowadays, I encouraged one young man to take an aptitude test. Back in the day, I had to go to a one-day workshop and plot it out on paper and figure it out. At the same time, he got access to it for free through the public library, on his library card on their website, and did it in 45 minutes. And it gave him an idea of some things he's interested in to pursue the vision of what he wants to do with his life. And lined up with some of the things he had already expressed an interest in. It was validating for him. Do you think younger people to develop that, come out of School and say they go to school? Some people go to School. I know a guy who is an SEO and he went to School, and I've heard this many times. So he went to School, became a lawyer, and is now one of the top SEOs in the world. And I won't name drop right now, but he said, Matt, I would rather chew on glass than be a lawyer again, he hates it. So anyway, for anybody out there, he's called Cal Roof. So I wanted him on Search Engine Land. So he tested and ranked the website with lorem ipsum text using keywords and nothing but on-page SEO for rhinoplasty, Dallas, or something. But the point I'm trying to make is that to avoid those mistakes, to tie it back to the vision and to develop younger people to have the tools to develop a vision for life, do you think that should be in the curriculum or something like that?

Like, there’s a strong current for people to go to school. And, at the age 17,18 years old, it’s hard to determine what you want to do with your life. I’m not knocking School, I’m getting my Doctorate in Sports Performance Psychology. When you find what you love to do, learning never stops. So it’s not about School; school isn’t the problem. The problem is being able to be in a space where you can figure out what you love to do. And often, School provides that opportunity for you to take everything you want to figure out what you want to do, but there’s a lot of money involved in you flirting around with everything. So I always recommend taking a couple of years off, figuring yourself out, joining the military, or doing something in a trade. So you do a sales job,  get the door slammed in your face a couple of times. Okay, I want to do marketing. Okay, I want to be a plumber. Okay, I want to do like, I’m passionate about this. Now get educated, because it’s not the School. It’s not the school system. It’s trying to figure out what God has for me and what I am called to do. So I think there’s probably a stronger current for that, too. Matt, people out there don’t want you to glorify the Lord with your talents or abilities.

No, that's true. There's that other side. It's amazing how negative people can be when they want to pull people down who are succeeding at something. So what's the difference between a vision and a mission?

Okay. Yeah, great question. I’ve explored this area repeatedly, many times, with different resources. And I call this question a Caddywhompus question. Because it’s not a good or bad code, it’s just Caddywhompus. The world out there has different ways of sorting mission and vision. How I have come to organize it, which is probably the most popular way. But I look at it because vision is an image of your future. It’s way out there. It’s something you’re never going to accomplish. So one of the best vision statements I ever worked on was for a Freedom United company. They’re the largest modern anti-slavery organization around. So we came up with this vision to end slavery. So ending slavery is that’s never going to happen. They’re never going to end slavery. But the idea that we’re going to end slavery is inspirational. Anybody would push back on that, that slavery is a good thin.

No, it's not.

People want to get around that. So the idea is that a vision is way out there, it’s something you’re never going to accomplish. So the mission is the steps to the vision. So you can have seven steps to your vision. These are the other way, and Seth Godin would back this up in his book, Start With Why. But vision engages the Olympic side of the brain. It takes all the motion. At the same time, the mission engages the what, where, when, and how. So that’s the neocortex side of the brain. They’re very distinct, different statements. So there’s one vision and multiple mission statements. In the Bible in Habakkuk, two: talks about the story, but Habakkuk goes on the watchtower, and he’s really upset. And because in Nineveh, there’s a lot of craziness going on. And God says, Write the vision on a tablet, make it plain, so the runner running by can see it and carry it with them. So vision is a short, portable, easy-to-understand, memorable, inspiring statement. I say this a lot too. Like if we were to go back, Matt, you are a very smart man. I can tell. If I were to go back and ask you, What was Barack Obama’s vision? Do you remember what it was?

No idea.

Change? Yes. We can. Remember that. Change? Do you remember who he ran against?

No, Mitt Romney, maybe?

Mitt Romney and John McCain. So let’s say, John McCain. Do you remember John McCain’s vision for the country?

No, no idea.

But you remember Barack Obama’s right. So that’s the short, portable, easy-to-understand, memorable, stylish, inspiring statement. So let’s talk about Donald Trump. Do you remember Donald Trump’s vision?

Donald Trump's vision was to make America great again.

Make America Great Again. Do you know he ran against?

No.

First time Hillary Clinton.

Yeah, Hillary Clinton ran the first time.

And what was her vision statement?

I have no idea.

Exactly. So, people run on vision and have a lengthy statement you can’t remember. It’s something that is not working. The way to also think about it is if you’re driving down the highway, down the 401, Matt. The 401 in Canada.

I've never been on it. But let's just say the Trans Canada Highway is Highway One.

So if you’re going down the highway, you see McDonald’s next exit. That’s easy, right? It is our portable, easy-to-understand, memorable statement. Not inspiring. But if you have a billboard with lots of words and paragraphs, you can’t read it, and you’re flying by 60 mph. Nobody cares. So this is where vision comes in. It’s that short, portable, easy-to-understand, memorable, inspiring statement- your mission statements support your vision of the what, where, when, and how. So vision answers the why, mission answers the what, where, when, and how.

So is that kind of like the left brain right brain sort of deal? You were talking about the right brain or your creative side of things and the left brain. I know you've explained it scientifically, but for people, is that even a thing?

It’s more like the lympic. It’s not left or right, but the lympic engages in motion, why engages motion. The cortex is about what, where, when, and how. So your neocortex is more like your mission statements, the logical and emotional sides are the why.

You are talking about vision, and I learned from Dan Kennedy and Jay Abraham, Developing a Unique Selling Proposition. And would you say that having a unique vision is similar to having a unique selling proposition, or is it a part of it?

It’s part of it. I’ve taken the USP and the features and benefits and flipped them on their heads a little bit in the last couple of years. Because I think there can be confusion, that’s the old way of thinking. I will suggest the newer way of thinking is we want to engage our client, our donor, and our first-time guests with a wide-change conversation. You scan a long line of other products, goods, and services whenever you get into a commoditized conversation. So many times, features and benefits and UPSs are all in that long list of commodities. So I look at the vision and narrative, find the hero, find the villain in that narrative, and then position the Why to change the conversation.

How long does it take you to go through this type, or does it vary with a business?

RS Seven organizations, it takes ten weeks. I’ve done it in meetings, the first session is three hours with me, and then it’s 30 to 45 minutes each week. So we can double down on weeks. But it’s not a process where we’re going to dig a hole, and we get a bunch of shovels and a bunch of people on the shovels, and we dig, dig, dig a bigger hole. It is more about thinking, processing, praying, going through, understanding what the decisions are, and thinking through the direction. Praying through the direction. So it needs to breathe a little bit.

The concept of the hero's journey in storytelling. I heard you mentioned the hero, the villain, and the journey. Was that an influence in helping you to develop this framework?

That came later, and because of the massive amount of impressions we get hit with every day, we had to simplify down for people like me, that can’t have five options. So give me one villain, give me one hero, and I’ll decide if I want to fight that fight for that villain?

And I imagine this affects the whole process of creating content, creating stories, and connecting with customers. Some people start a business, I want to be a plumber or start a business without a vision, but they want to do it without thinking. I know, many people I've talked to, that there are even fortune 500 companies that don't necessarily know their vision or who they're trying to target. And to interrelate it, many people who listen to our show know that I used to be the Marketing Director of a car dealership. This OEM manufacturer didn't even have personas built for who they were targeting with each specific vehicle. And if you ask me what their vision is, I worked for that company for at least five years, and I don't even know what their vision is to this day. So anyway, I think it's powerful the framework you've created. Do you have examples besides the Freedom United example of creating a vision? Were there any businesses you worked with that developed the vision and went through the Rs Seven process that you can share a story about?

Sure. I’ve got a ton of them. It’s a matter of which one I can think of here.

Which one comes off the top of your mind?

I think another one I enjoyed was questioning therapy. A ministry came to us, and they did question therapy. So their whole message was hope and healing. Providing hope and healing. And it was interesting because I love hope and healing at onboarding. So, rescue horses bring in kids to troubled teens, kids dealing with whatever issue, and they tell the story of the horse, and it was therapeutic. There’s therapy in the message of the rescue horse. And through that process, we can build the vision, mission, and core values. But also providing hope and healing every day. So that’s what we came up with. And within months, they were super successful in getting financing for a farm. And it was stuck on every day. I was stuck in the conjunction, and they were stuck on the every day. So when you talk about every day, part of the checklist of a vision statement is it has to be bigger than yourself. So you must have the God factor. End slavery is pretty big. If it’s not big, I had a pastor tell me, man, my vision is big, and I said, well, if it’s not, it’s a mission statement. So vision has to be big.

Thinking about the Wright brothers having the vision to fly. Recently I was watching a story about Henry Ford and his tractors. He had the vision, and he phoned the newspaper and told them he was going to sell a certain amount of tractors within the next year. It was a ridiculous number to reach, and he crushed it. He didn't know how he was going to do it. But he had a vision, and I would say that he was someone who could see things that were invisible to others regarding inventing things. So I want to thank you for coming on and talking about this. Its been very enlightening, and I have gotten a lot out of it. So what would be one takeaway you would want listeners to get from this episode?

I want to encourage anybody who is listening. We talked a lot about vision today, and it’s not that complicated. God has a vision in your heart, it doesn’t have to be a big lifelong process. If you have something in your spirit that you feel is in your gut that you must do, then it’s probably part of your vision. Although it may be difficult to let go of some things, personally and professionally. It is awesome to live a life filled with passion and fulfillment. You don’t have to quit everything to embrace your vision, you can slowly embrace it. So act, do something about it. I would encourage whoever is listening to act on the vision of what’s in their spirit. You must ensure it’s healthy and that it is going to inspire and empower somebody. You don’t want to do something that is going to create violence. You may have some people listening who may have that intention. I wouldn’t advise that, but if it’s healthy, inspirational, and empowering.

Thanks very much for sharing that. How can people connect with you online?

Probably through vision links, they can Google it. There is a landing page there and contact information.

Are you on LinkedIn as well?

I am, probably LinkedIn is just as good.

I will put those in the show notes so people can access them. Again, It's been a pleasure, and I want to thank you for being here.

Thank you, and I appreciate it. Bye.

No problem. Bye.

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