The anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth, as commemorated each January with a national holiday, has me thinking a lot about the importance of vision. The significant changes Dr. King led and inspired took incredible courage, sacrifice and persistence, from him and many others. However, at the foundation of that hard work was a dream – a vision for the future – that resonated in the hearts of others and galvanized an entire movement.
As Dr. King said,
“Dreams are at the center of any effort to make things better.”
Without a compelling vision, we…
- Don’t push out of comfort zones or break the status quo
- Can’t get to the strategies and actions that make change a reality
- Won’t attract followers to share in the vision
- Wouldn’t as easily overcome obstacles and failures along the way
What is vision?
- It is focused on the future
- It paints a picture of what might be
- It is bold
- It is about transformation
- It inspires you and others to action
I would encourage you to think about what changes you hope to lead and inspire, whether in your personal or professional lives, or in the world around you.
While crafting your vision statement, keep these principles in mind:
Connect Vision to Values & Purpose: For a vision to be meaningful and truly motivating, it has to connect with what really matters. That means grounding your vision in the values you hold most dear, and in the “why” behind what you do.
Set Fears and Limitations Aside: Why is it hard to boldly and freely envision future possibilities? It’s because we so easy give-in to the familiar thoughts that tell us “that will never happen, “ or “you’ll probably fail.” When you notice those thoughts, it’s a good sign that you’re starting to push outside a comfort zone and entertain something bigger. Consciously set fears and limiting thoughts aside in order to explore the full range of possibility. Compelling visions are about transformation, not incremental change.
Team Visions Should Be Team Created: An effective team vision can mean the difference between mediocre and high performance. It can activate intrinsic motivation within your team members, inspiring everyone to work harder, innovate more boldly, and collaborate more deeply. A poorly set vision, on the other hand, can do the opposite. What’s the difference? An effective vision involves the full buy-in of everyone on the team. It is shared. To achieve this, everyone must be involved in the vision creation process, as messy as that can be. Only through a group process can you realize a vision that’s authentically woven into the efforts of the team.
Paint a Palpable Picture: The more you can bring your vision alive, the more energy it will attract from you and others. Paint a picture of your envisioned future with details that capture the emotions. What will it feel like to be in that place, or at that stage? What would you be doing? Who and what will be changed? What impact would that have on them and others?