The sea – the ideal metaphor for a vision

Factual arguments that are understandable, do not contradict and describe tangible things are important, in order to achieve viable results. However, with these more technical descriptions, you do not get to the heart of the people. The respective visions create enthusiasm. Unfortunately, visions are nowadays occasionally denounced – Anyone who has visions should go to the doctor. In order to benefit from the advantages of a vision, you should occasionally be aware of its power. The sea serves as example for an ideal metaphor of a vision.


The vision is a snapshot of the future. Here, the world is captured in a way, as visionaries imagine it. In a time, when a computer filled a whole building, it needed a lot, in order to imagine a computer in each house, even if this seems to be a modest retrospective look into the future with today’s laptops, IPads and smartphones. At the same time we today already think ahead. In the future implantable chips and robots could take over many tasks that we can hardly imagine today.

What makes the sea the ideal metaphor for a vision?

  • Horizon
    The look at the sea is determined by the water and the sky. The horizon, the line between the two, is about 5 km away. The special aspect is the fact that on the one hand you can approach it, but at the same time this limit of sight moves on accordingly. Thus, the horizon is unattainable, exactly the same way, as a vision should be.
  • Vastness
    If you are standing by the sea, you are overwhelmed by its vastness. Our visual field is not big enough, to seize the panorama with one look. We must turn our head, in order to grasp the entire picture. The vision should be as open that it cannot be grasped at first sight. It inspires, because you should always discover new aspects, when you reason about it.
  • Unattainability
    The observers cannot imagine the size of the sea. Even besides a large lake the coast behind the horizon seems to be unattainable. The vision also functions due to its distance, because of the feeling that it seems to be far beyond any practical application. It is crucial to provide a general direction, a signpost that sets up the actions of the involved people to a common compass direction. The milestones on the way are determined afterwards by goals.
  • Danger
    If you think about the elemental forces of nature, it creates even fear due to the depth, the width and the strength of the water. These strong feelings anchor things that we link with the sea. Also the vision thrives on the fear of the uncertain future and how to cope with it. The measures that are defined in the strategy are the life rafts and life jackets that encourage you to commit yourself.
  • Effort
    In the sea personal commitment is required, in order to accomplish the efforts. The safe ship, sufficient food supply and a coordinated team support a mastery of such challenges. Large enterprises follow the same pattern and also embrace the strength of the vision. The longer a project lasts, the more energy the involved people need.

Bottom line: The sea is the ideal metaphor for the vision, since an endeavor goes far beyond the imagination of the participants. The vision makes use of a similar yearning, as it is created by the sea. It produces momentum without spoon-feeding the people. At the latest St. Exupéry formulated these insights in the following phrases:

“If you want to build a ship,
don’t drum up the men to gather wood,
divide the work,
and give orders.
Instead, teach them
to yearn
for the vast and endless sea.”

It is wrong not to apply the power of the vision, because it will help avoiding additional efforts in your initiatives.