The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.
– John Sculley – Former CEO of Pepsi and Apple Computer
Vision is everything for a leader. It is utterly indispensable. Why? Because vision leads the leader. It paints the target. It sparks and fuels the fire within, and draws him forward. It is also the fire lighter for others who follow that leader. Show me a leader without vision, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t going anywhere. At best, he is traveling in circles. To get a handle on vision and how it comes to be a part of a good leader’s life, understand these things:
Vision Starts Within – You can’t buy, beg, or borrow vision. It has to come from the inside. If you lack vision, look inside yourself. Draw on your natural gifts and desires. Look to your calling if you have one. And if you still don’t sense a vision of your own, then consider hooking up with a leader whose vision resonates with you. Become his partner.
Vision Draws on Your History– Vision isn’t some mystical quality that comes out of a vacuum, as some people seem to believe. It grows from a leader’s past and the history of the people around him. Talk to any leader, and you’re likely to discover key events in his past that were instrumental in the creation of his vision.
Vision Meets Others’ Needs – True vision is far-reaching. It goes beyond what one individual can accomplish. And if it has real value, it does more than just include others; it adds value to them. If you have a vision that doesn’t serve others, it’s probably too small.
Vision Helps You Gather Resources – One of the most valuable benefits of vision is that it acts like a magnet-attracting, challenging, and uniting people. It also rallies finances and other resources. The greater the vision, the more winners it has the potential to attract. The more challenging the vision, the harder the participants fight to achieve it.
Where does vision come from? To find the vision that is indispensable to leadership, you have to become a good listener. You must listen to several voices.
The Inner Voice – Vision starts within. Do you know your life’s mission? What stirs your heart? What do you dream about? If what you’re pursuing in life doesn’t come from a desire within-from the very depths of who you are and what you believe- you will not be able to accomplish it.
The Unhappy Voice – Where does inspiration for great ideas come from? From noticing what doesn’t work. Discontent with the status quo is a great catalyst for vision. Are you on complacent cruise control? Or do you find yourself itching to change your world? No great leader in history has fought to prevent change.
The Successful Voice – Nobody can accomplish great things alone. To fulfill a big vision, you need a good team. But you also need good advice from someone who is ahead of you in the leadership journey. If you want to lead others to greatness, find a mentor. Do you have an adviser who can help you sharpen your vision?
The Higher Voice – Although it’s true that your vision must come from within, you shouldn’t let it be confined by your limited capabilities. A truly valuable vision must have God in it. Only He knows your full capabilities. Have you looked beyond yourself, even beyond your own lifetime, as you’ve sought your vision? If not, you may be missing your true potential and life’s best for you.
To improve your vision, do the following:
Measure yourself – If you have previously thought about the vision for your life and articulated it, measure how well you are carrying it out. Talk to several key people, such as your spouse, a close friend, and key employees, asking them to state what they think your vision is. If they can articulate it, then you are probably living it.
Write it down – If you’ve thought about your vision but never put it in writing, take the time to do it today. Writing clarifies your thinking. Once you’ve written it, evaluate whether it is worthy of your life’s best. And then pursue it with all you’ve got.
Do a gut check – If you haven’t done a lot of work on vision, spend the next several weeks or months thinking about it. Consider what really impacts you at a gut level.
What makes you cry? _____________________________________________
What makes you dream? __________________________________________
What gives you energy? ____________________________________________
Also think about what you’d like to see change in the world around you. What do you see that isn’t-but could be? Once your ideas start to become clearer, write them down and talk to a mentor about them.
From 1923 to 1955, Robert Woodruff served as president of Coca-Cola. During that time, he wanted Coca-Cola to be available to every American serviceman around the world for five cents, no matter what it cost the company. What a bold goal! But it was nothing compared to the bigger picture he could see in his mind’s eye. In his lifetime, he wanted every person in the world to have tasted Coca-Cola. When you look deep into your heart and soul for vision, what do you see?
Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]–blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he. ( Proverbs 29:18 – The Amplified)