TO SAY that Einstein was a visionary genius is putting it very mildly.

His vision extended all the way back to the beginning of time and out to the most distant reaches of the universe.

Many elements of his vision were truly revolutionary within the scientific context of his time.

There were certainly people who would have liked to disagree with him.

When he said that space was curved, there were those who would just as soon have stuck with flat space, just as their ancestors would have argued for a flat earth.

But fortunately for Einstein, he didn’t really have to persuade anyone about his theories in the way that earlier visionaries had to.

His concepts were stated in the rigorous language of mathematics. There was no disagreeing with them because they were already proven within the terminology that science had universally agreed to accept.

The power to imagine

As you develop your own visionary capabilities, however, you probably won’t have the benefit of mathematical proof.

You will most likely have to persuade others to buy into your vision using the regular old English language — and your ability to do that is just as important as your ideas themselves.

If you have the power to imagine, be creative and inspire your vision in others, you are going to be more influential than someone who  doesn’t. It’s that simple.

Needless to say, a vision doesn’t have to be a whole new way of looking at the universe.

You can be a visionary — even a visionary genius — without being another Einstein.

A vision can simply be your picture of a desired state of affairs at some point in the future.

Suppose three people are looking at an open field just outside the city limits.

One person sees a baseball diamond for kids to play on.

Another sees a mini-mall with convenient little shops.

The third person sees the perfect place for low-income housing.

Those three are very different visions. Yet, assuming that this plot of land is waiting to be developed, someone’s vision will win.

Whose vision will it be? Hopefully, it will be the person with the “best” idea — financially, ecologically, ethically and in a hundred other ways.

But actually, it will probably be the person who is most effective at getting others to buy into his vision. And the reality is, that winning vision may be the best one — or it may not be.

Sharing your vision

How do you go about making your vision attractive to other people?

“What if” questions can be the starting point. Get people thinking beyond their rules or limitations.

In his book A Whack On The Side Of The Head, author Roger von Oech calls it “getting into a germinal frame of mind”. That is like a garden bed with rich, black dirt where seeds get a good start on germination.

“What if” questions allow people to free themselves from ingrained assumptions about how things are done or what is even possible.

When you first introduce them, a lot of your “what if” speculations may sound impractical and unrealistic.

But embedded within the impractical, a seed of practicality can be planted.

Mr von Oech cites the example of an engineer at a large chemical company.

His “what if” suggested mixing gunpowder into paint products. Then when the surface needed repainting, they could blow the old paint off of it.

True, that is not very practical.

But it did open the idea of having something within the paint that allowed for it to be removed easily.

The engineer’s “what if” question opened up everyone’s thinking about putting additives in the paint.

One additive would be in the paint when you bought it. It would be inert until another substance was spread on the surface. When the two chemicals interacted — Bingo! The paint would come off easily.

Visions are born for all sorts of reasons: to make money, to end a problem, to improve a situation, to create an alternative or to have more fun.

To turn vision into reality, the key is stopping people’s critical instincts from coming in too soon.

“What if” questions are great to use on yourself, and they are essential for sharing your vision with others.