It begins with a vision.
Like so many of you, I have struggled with the inundation of horrific news reports over the last few weeks. I don't want to live in a world where the relentless bad news almost numbs our senses to tragedy. One more killing, one more bomb, one more hateful tweet...I find myself waking up and wondering what has happened overnight that I really don't want to know about. In this state of sadness overwhelm I have tried to turn off the news, delete Facebook "friends" who incite toxicity, cancel newspaper subscriptions; all to no avail.
When I finally come out of the fog, I remember to tap into my internal wisdom and my guiding principles of leadership. What I unequivocally know about good leadership is that we cannot simply ignore what is; we need to create an image of a new destination. Great leaders step into the reality of what is occurring and offer a vision for something different, a new perspective, a new path. A vision is the first step for both self leadership and, ultimately, in the leadership of others. In my mind, cliches stand the test of time because of the inherent truth imbedded in their words; Begin with the end in mind, is one of the best!
The power of a vision is that it describes an end state in such a compelling way that people get excited, inspired, and motivated to make the vision or end state a reality. You could argue that a well articulated vision holds the duality of being both the beginning and the end. It is the guiding force, or energy, which people use to decide if they want to be part of the journey or find another bus going to another destination.
If you want to lose 20 pounds it is much tougher to achieve your goal if, every day, you focus on what you can't eat or drink. If you focus on the race you want to run, or the dress you want to wear, or the way you want to feel when you are dancing around, 20 pounds lighter, on the beach, suddenly the goal isn't so daunting.
If you want your company or team to hit new audacious sales targets, create a compelling vision around what the energy of winning will feel like. Please understand, I am not talking about simply stating a target or goal. I am talking about a description of what the culture or energy of the company will feel like once the target is met. Get a visual in your head so filled with detail that you feel like you have already arrived at your desired destination and then...go out and tell everyone on your team! Have them add to the picture to make it even more real. It is in this realness that the power of a vision lives.
Dictionary.com defines vision as:
The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be
An experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind
The key words here are vividly and credibly.
It is the vision that acts as the guiding principle that determines not only what we do, which is what a majority of leaders and people focus on, but rather where we are going, why we are going there and how we will feel once we get there.
Are you trying to implement a big change, reach a bold goal, inspire a team? It begins with a vision.
Take out a piece of paper and answer the following:
1) Why - what are you doing it for? In others words, purpose! Articulate a reason for being! Best magazine, best place to work, most fun department to be a part of, best customer experience etc.
2) Describe, in as much detail as possible, the destination. Who will benefit? Will the office space change? Are there rewards? Will there be press coverage? I encourage you to practice visualization. If it works for the best athletes in the world, it can work for you too. What will crossing the finish line look like?
3) How will people feel once they have arrived? Describe the feelings! Joy? #winning? Unstoppable? Confident? Fulfilled?
4) Communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate. Ok - you get the idea. Once is not enough. As leader, it is your most important role to hold the vision in front of everyone's eyes on a continuous basis.
Be bold in your vision. Big vision inspires big energy.
And now you’re thinking, but Michele, where does world peace play into all of this?
My big vision is a world where love, compassion and empathy have more power than hate and divisiveness. My big vision is that we all realize that each of us deserves abundance, respect and opportunity. My big vision is that the so-called least among us are held in as high regard as the most powerful among us. My big vision is that there is more than plenty for all of us; that everyone’s God inspires peace and love and goodwill.
If enough people focus on this vision, this too can become a reality. I believe it is already! But we need to get louder. We need more social media posts. We need to generate more coverage. We need to create a world where love and acts of generosity and kindness are the sensation of the day. We need to visualize a world where peace, compassion and words of kindness reign supreme. So our hearts can be lighter, so joy can be the dominate emotion today and every day.