Where Are You Going?

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“I have a dream!”

Now that’s big vision!  That declaration is probably one of the clearest and most widely acknowledged vision statements of the 20th century.  What was Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision?

Equality and freedom!

“I have a dream that one day my four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. King could easily have said, “I have a vision!”  It was his vision that captivated a race, rallied a people, changed a nation, and defined an epoch.  Such is the power of vision and a dream.

I have a framed poster in my office that challenges me every time I look at it:

“If your dream doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough.”

So what’s your dream?  What’s your vision?  Is it big enough?

Casting a compelling vision is one of the chief roles of a leader.  I read an article recently about Jeff Wiener, the CEO of LinkedIn – which Microsoft acquired for over $26 billion.  Jeff believes in 3 elements of good leadership:

Clarity of vision, courage of conviction and the ability to communicate both.

It’s not enough to have a bold vision – sometimes referred to as a BHAG. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)  You need to have the ability to communicate it, and then courage of conviction to lead others in the execution of that vision.

Recently I wrote about simplifying your mission, vision and values into 3 simple questions:

What do we do?  Why do we do it?  How do we do it?

The fourth key question to answer is:

Where are we going?

This is your dream.  It’s your vision.  It’s that bold and courageous declaration that captivates the hearts of your people and rallies them to go above and beyond to achieve the extraordinary.

And you know what the difference between ordinary and extra ordinary is don’t you?  It’s that little “extra”!  Compelling vision motivates your people to consistently keep giving that little extra.

If the leader isn’t envisioned about the organization, how are the people going to be?  Vision is the fuel to propel people to new heights of accomplishment.  Extraordinary accomplishments are always preceded by extraordinary vision.  One could argue that the world’s most power catalyst is a courageously cast compelling vision.

And remember this: all great human accomplishments were deemed to be impossible at one point in time.  When someone tells you it can’t be done it’s more a reflection of their limitations not yours.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”  Warren Bennis

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller.  The story teller sets the vision, values and agenda for an entire generation that is to come.”  Steve Jobs

“Where there is no vision there is no hope.”  George Carver Washington

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”  Helen Keller

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”  Peter Drucker

I don’t know who said it, but I think it’s brilliant:

“Speak what you seek until you see what you’ve said.”

Vision needs to not only be created and compellingly cast, but it must be cast again and again.  Vision must be cast repeatedly.  Why?  Because people don’t get it the first time, and our memories are short – we forget.

In the article about Jeff Wiener he spoke of an occasion when he met with his senior leaders.  He jumped right into the analysis of some key metrics they needed to get on top of.  They spent the meeting working through the financials and then broke for lunch.

He asked the leaders at his table what their thoughts were about the meeting.  One spoke up and said she didn’t like it.  Normally he started every meeting with the company vision and he didn’t do it this time.  The other senior leaders agreed with their colleague.

They indicated it was the vision of LinkedIn that had captivated them, and brought them to the team.

Vision must be repeatedly and compellingly cast.

Where are you going?

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Leading and Living on Purpose.