Central to any worthy vision is the requirement to appreciate delayed gratification. Almost by definition, the vision a leader creates will require others to invest now in order to reap bigger rewards in the future. The problem is that people are not hardwired to value future pleasures as compared to immediate satisfaction. Postponing immediate gains makes us uneasy. What if the delayed rewards never materialize? A bird in hand, as they say.
The internal doubts from people who would prefer to dine on their rewards now often sink visions and the visionaries that create them. Asking others to delay gratification is a big ask, even though we can point to a host of positive outcomes when we do so. Enhanced patience, willpower, and self-control to name a few. In other words, the more we delay gratification, the better people we become.
Leaders must remember that selling a vision means confronting the doubts that nag at people and the thoughts that have them questioning why they must wait to receive their just desserts. Leaders up to this challenge will frame the future as containing the real reward, the one worth waiting for. Crafting a vivid image of this future state, in words or pictures, can help those with less vision to see or conceptualize the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Visionary leaders must work hard at helping others to see the long-term rewards. They keep these images front and center for their teams. The best leaders don’t delay.