Vision is the world’s most desperate need. There are no hopeless situations, only people who think hopelessly. – Winfred Newman
About 350 years ago, as the story is told, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness.
In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “People can be divided into two classes: those who go ahead and do something, and those people who sit still and inquire, why wasn’t it done the other way?” Together, the first settlers had the vision to cross an ocean and establish a town. But in just a few short years they could not come together to expand their horizons by five miles.
The same obstacles that confronted the early settlers on the frontier can be the same ones you face in the boardroom. Just as the townspeople became restless, so too will your team if they do not understand the vision. Answer these three questions for them (and yourself) and the possibilities of your vision will increase.
Where are we going? Before a journey of 3, 000 across an ocean or five miles out of town, your people want to know where they are going. If they do not know where they are going and you have not effectively communicated the vision to them, how can you expect them to buy-in and go with you?
Denis Waitley said, “A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.” If you are not comfortable with the unfamiliar and unknown neither will your team. Is there a sense of uncertainty within your organization? Are team members restless? If your vision is not moving forward perhaps the reason why is because they do not know where they are going. Help them know and they will go with you.
Why are we going? As important as it is for your organization to know where it is going, it is equally important for them to know why. The early settlers knew where they were going and why. But the vision stalled once they got established. Why? They quit dreaming. No one stepped up and adequately communicated that there were new trails to blaze and discoveries to make. As a result complacency set in and in the end there was contempt for those who attempted even modest new undertakings.
Brian Tracy said, “Goals allow you to control the direction of change in your favor.” Leaders who communicate vision, set goals in moving forward, will eventually reach them. How far will your vision take you? When your team understands their purpose and buys-in to the vision, the sky is the limit as to how far you can go.
What is my role? Not only do your team members need to know where they are going and why, they need to understand their role in carrying out the vision. Ken Blanchard said, “Vision comes alive when everyone sees where his or her contributions make a difference.” Do your team members know and understand their respective roles in carrying out your vision? How do you know?
Vision becoming a reality is not a game of chance and wishful thinking. Dreams turn into reality only as leadership has clearly defined it and team members know how to execute it. A wise leader will not leave it to chance but will do everything within his or her power to help others know where they are going, why they are going there, and what their roles is in making it a reality. A unified organization has unlimited potential for success.
How far will your vision take you?
© 2011 Doug Dickerson
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