VISION FIRST – GOALS SECOND & THE POWER OF FORESIGHT
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
– Woodrow Wilson
Some time ago I was hired to present a keynote and to develop and facilitate a series of half-day programs on leadership, communication and the power of imagery to both mid-level and senior management of a large oil company. With laser-like intent, I laid the groundwork for what I considered the heart of motivation and passion for achievement in teams, communication and the individual. At what I thought was the appropriate time, I asked the group a simple question on which I would base the entire program: “What is the vision of your company?
No one raised his or her hand.
I thought they might be self-conscious or shy, so I gently encouraged them by giving examples. The room grew deadly silent. Everyone was looking at each other. A sinking feeling began to creep into my stomach. “Your company does have a vision, doesn’t it?” I asked.
A few people shrugged, and a few shook their heads.
I was dumbfounded. How could any group or individual strive toward clarity of purpose, greatness and mastery without a vision, especially in the era of technology overwhelm, constant change, increasing competition and rapid communication?
They cannot. Perhaps they can maintain and even grow in small increments and they might even be able to survive; but they can’t expect to take quantum leaps – with passion – without a vision. Many corporations and organizations not only lack a vision, but they are unaware of the power that a vision generates. They make the common mistake of equating a mission statement with a vision statement.
Many individuals also neglect identifying life priorities and values. They do not have a vision, believing that setting a goal is the same as defining a vision.
A goal is a baby step toward a vision. A goal, whether short or long-term, is limiting. It has a beginning and an end. A vision is ongoing, open-ended and limitless. A goal is task-oriented; a vision is process-oriented. A goal can be boring, mundane, and non-inspirational; a guiding vision provides the energy, power and passion to achieve goals.
Is vision really important?
A vision is vital to achieving true success! It’s at the core of motivation and passion. Having and communicating a vision are the primary traits of true leaders. We either create our destiny, or we live out someone else’s creation.
A vision is like a lighthouse, which illuminates rather than limits and gives direction. Almost all successful individuals and organizations have one thing in common: the power and depth of their vision. A positive, meaningful vision of the future, supported by compelling goals, provides purpose and direction in the present.
A vision is not something that happens by accident, but is purposefully created. Meaning flows from the act of any creation, and passion comes into our lives when we act congruently with our vision.
What exactly is a vision?
First of all, a vision of magnitude is greater than the individual. A vision may be eliminating world hunger, cleaning up the environment, volunteering to serve others or raising the quality of education. A vision expresses our values and what we hope to contribute. It’s about creating an organization that expresses our deepest values about work, family, or community.
Vision transforms momentary strategies into a way of life, engenders change and energizes the mundane. Vision is creating an ideal future with a grand purpose of greatness. It plays a core role in many activities – ranging from career choices to family vacations, from the quality of relationships to surviving acquisition and mergers. Vision gives us the capability to deal with change.
5 steps for creating a Grand Vision
1. A Grand Vision is about others
In order to create a grand vision, we have to challenge the short-term, quick-result, “me, me, me” way of thinking. A vision of greatness must focus on service, adding value to and empowering others. The long-term success of any organization represents more than market share or profit. Long-term success reflects making a contribution to others.
2. A Grand Vision is idealistic
A vision of greatness is an expression of the idealistic and spiritual sides of our nature. When we touch the caring, loving and spiritual nature of others, they are much more likely to be moved to action than if we try to appeal to their logic.
People need to know that the vision will accomplish some greater good to mankind. It is no accident that almost every organization in the modern business world is exploring ways to accomplish this higher purpose.
3. A Grand Vision comes from the heart
It’s not necessary for a vision to be practical or reasonable. Goals are practical and reasonable. The loftiness of a vision may seem as though it asks too much of us. If it does, that’s the signpost that you are on the right track. A grand vision often requires sacrifice, giving up short-term satisfaction for a long-term payoff.
4. A Grand Vision is authentic
Authenticity means the vision statement comes from you – and no one can create the statement for you. A vision must be personal in order for us to “own” it and it must be recognized as uniquely ours. The vision must be an extension of our personal being.
5. A Grand Vision is extraordinary
It is easy to allow ourselves to be manipulated into mediocrity. We are constantly presented with magazines, advertisements and television shows that purport to be a reflection of normalcy. We are led to believe that being normal is to be like everyone else. If we choose to venture outside the box of normalcy, we will be criticized; yet people have great respect for risk-takers.
A Grand Vision takes a quantum leap from the ordinary. If it spells out our highest ideals and wishes, it stands to reason that it will stand above the commonplace. It will set us apart from the crowd. Think Amazon, Southwest Airlines, Apple, PepsiCo, Tesla, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Save the Children or the Cleveland Clinic.
Great visions are not handed down from above. They are not dictated or manipulative. Visions are created and crafted by those who will be living the vision.
The bottom line is that vision is a whole, much greater than its parts. Vision cannot be built by simply assembling its pieces. It has to come from the heart and when it comes from the heart, the lives lived will be exceptional.
James Mapes is the founder of Quantum Leap Thinking™, creator of The Transformational Coach™, expert on the psychology of “applied imagination,” best-selling author, highly acclaimed business speaker, consultant, seminar leader and personal excellence coach.