How’s Your Vision?

I know – your first thought goes to an image of an eye chart, doesn’t it?  In this case, however, I am asking about your vision of the future!  What does it look like?

If your answer is “I don’t know,” let’s take a pause and consider the value in answering that question.

Visions are important.

From a personal, team, and organizational perspective, a vision does create that view of the future.  Your vision is your destination.  It is the context that frames your next moves.  A vision provides you with a focal point … a spot on the horizon that becomes your primary motivation.  What will I do to get there?

Standing at the entrance of the Thomas Edison exhibit (The Wizard of Menlo Park) in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, a visitor is faced with the following quote written on the wall:

“The fact to be accomplished by me is the invention perfection and introduction into practice of a practicable system of illuminating by electricity which shall effect every object and take the place of the present method of lighting by gas.”

Would you consider this quote Edison’s vision?  Has he expressed his future focus?  Do you believe that all of his efforts regarding electricity were accomplished with the “gas replacement” vision clearly in view?

Visions are compelling.

Many organizations spend hours finessing their vision statements … looking for the best way to wordsmith their future dreams.

We do know that visions serve to bring teammates and organizations together.  Visions are meant to inspire.  So why do we see so many vision statements with a lot of words … and no meaning?

XXX Organization will be everything to everyone at all times.

OK – this is a bit of exaggeration … but it is representative of some visions that exist in companies.  We spend so much time trying to incorporate all of our present and potentially future thoughts into one statement, that the vision becomes broad, vague, directionless, and unachievable.  With the vision above – where would you begin?

I like visions that use “real” words.  Actionable words.  Words that conjure a visual as soon as I read them.  Words that I can latch on to … words that embed themselves under my skin.

My advice – don’t worry about what the vision statement looks like … worry about what it says.  Do you want to go there?  Will others want to go there?  Get real.  Get exciting.  Show that the future is brighter!

In 2009, Apple, Inc. COO Tim Cook, expressed his perspective of Apple’s company philosophy as follows.  (Tim Cook is now CEO of Apple, Inc.)

“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex.”

Does this vision inspire?  Does it move others into action?  Most importantly – does it stir you?  Does it grab you on an emotional level?

Visions take time.

Crafting your vision statement – whether personal, team, or organizational – takes time.  Or, shall I say, should take time.  How many hours do we dedicate to being the best we can be today – while failing to devote any time to think about tomorrow?

Instead, stop … look up … think.  Ponder about next.  Evaluate yourself (or your team or organization).  Have a frank conversation about where you want your future.  Don’t let others (people or environment) sway you to a place where you (or they) think you should be.  A true vision belies external influence and defines where you want to go.

  • Personally – a vision provides structure for your career development plan.
  • Within a team – a vision foretells of contribution.
  • Within an organization – a vision describes “next.”

Start with some of these basic questions – then create more of your own.  Ruminate on the answers.  Then start drafting that vision.

  • What is your core purpose?
  • What do you do well?
  • What is your value proposition?
  • Who is your future focus?
  • What reputation do you want?
  • What do you LIKE doing?

Important, compelling visions do take time to create.  However, when you get it right, the power of those words drives those who believe toward success.

Need proof?

  • Picture Amazon.com, Inc. as it began operations in 1994:  an online bookstore.
  • Picture Amazon.com, Inc. today: online books, yes … but much, much more.

Amazon’s vision statement –

“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” 

 

Say it – write it – do it.

Think forward.  Think future.  Create your vision.  Then go for it.

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2 Comments on “How’s Your Vision?”

  1. Lisa McAbee says:

    Great blog, Susan! And, I love the examples you provided. Having vision is also a characteristic of effective leadership according to multiple leadership effectiveness studies. Good stuff.

    • Thank you, Lisa. And yes – I agree with you about the link between leadership effectiveness and vision. It is so important for a leader at any level to know where they are headed … and to communicate that destination so clearly that followers willingly “sign on” for the journey. That type of leadership is so energizing!!!


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