My grandfather drove a steam engine, and as a young boy all I ever dreamed about was to be like him, controlling the Iron Horse. I remember the blast of heat from the furnace against my face as I watched two muscular, sweating men shovel coal into the fiery hole. Most of the time I rode in the engineer’s cabin, watching Grandpa work the levers that controlled the steam pressure with the deft skill of a musician. With my fingers tightly plugged in my ears, I imagined myself in his place, manipulating the long, shiny brass handles, periodically releasing loud blasts of steam.

He controlled our speed with total concentration and sensitivity as we coupled up with or released cars at various locations. Sometimes I felt we were moving at the pace of a snail. At other times, free of the burden of dragging the massive weight of many cars behind the engine, we flew along the tracks. Grandpa let me blast the horn. I loved the immense power of that machine and eagerly awaited the surprise of our destinations.

One night Grandpa sat me on his lap and, placing his large hands over my small ones, taught me to play the tune of those brass handles. Together, we rerouted the Iron Horse from one track to another, gently guided it into the roundhouse, and put that big beast to bed for the night.
Creating a vision is like operating that train. It often requires rerouting to a different track, and we must be flexible enough to adjust the pressure to increase or decrease our speed and to know how to throw the proper switches to change direction at a moment’s notice. We may need to make unexpected stops and detours along the way. Those stops and detours are a necessary part of the journey. We may need them to refocus, examine our values, let some things go and add others. This is why I require every individual I coach to create a vision statement. Perhaps this may be true for you.