Most wildly successful endeavors start with a big Vision, with a capital V. Right? You know, like when Mark Zuckerberg was coding Facebook in his dorm room to pick up girls on campus, and Steve Jobs tried to sell his first customer a bag o’ computer chips and a motherboard that Steve Wozniak had spec’d out. Remember the time when Henry Ford wanted to automate farm equipment because he thought working on his dad’s farm was a drag? That was so cool.

Zuckerberg’s vision wasn’t to invent social networking; Jobs didn’t foresee turning phones into a computing platform; Ford did not invent the automobile.

The story of the solo wolf entrepreneur who, in a flash of brilliance, experiences a “Eureka!” moment that will forever alter the course of history is a myth. It’s simply not true. A truer story is the scientist who makes a discovery by accident, or the engineer who betters existing technology through painstaking experimentation, or the entrepreneur who willingly alters his vision in order to follow market demand.

The successful product rarely matches the entrepreneur’s initial vision, and, more often than not, the end product is hardly recognizable at all. But for whatever reason, the visionary-turned-billionaire narrative makes us feel good.

When corporate consultants and life coaches insist you write a vision statement, they want you to project where ...

Get The Lean Entrepreneur now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.