Vision Is More Precious Than Sight

Vision is the ability to see in the darkness.

Back in 1958, Honda was making motorcycle engines and not much else. But then Mr. Honda got a vision. He brought all his employees together and told them their new vision would be to build more cars than Ford — which, at the time, was the largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

Mr. Honda asked his employees’ to contribute their ideas. But he said, from that day forward, all of their ideas must pass one test. They must show him how that idea would help them beat Ford.

Then, around 1992, Honda was building and selling more Honda Accords than Ford was selling its Taurus models. And it all started with vision.

People and organizations can achieve incredible things when they’re guided and motivated by a vision. But I would also contend that most people don’t have much of a vision for their lives and their careers. They’re just putting in their time, adapting to their environment, and getting by.

Well, that my friends, is not the way to live a fully satisfying, fully productive life. If you don’t have a vision, you can’t possibly become all you want to become or achieve all you want to achieve. You’re bound to be disappointed.

Too many people live their lives like frogs in a beaker. They’ll simply stay there, in the water, with no thoughts of the future.

You can even heat up the water — gradually — and the frogs won’t leave. They’ll just sit there, adapting to their environment, blinking their eyes, until it’s too late.

The same is true for many organizations. They keep on adapting until it’s too late. They lack vision, or their vision may be far from adequate.

So what is this thing called “vision?” In the simplest of terms, VISION IS WHERE YOU’RE HEADED. You’ve got to know that. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.

What about you? Have you taken the time to think about, to tinker with, and clarify your vision? Have you taken the time to actually write it out? And are you taking time to read and reflect upon your vision every day? There is power in doing so.

Of course, you may wonder how you do that. I can unashamedly recommend my CD on “Purpose: If You Don’t Stand For Something, You’ll Fall For Anything.” In the period of 60 minutes, I’ll take you step-by-step through a process that will change your life and your business. You’ll end up with a vision that fits you and works for you.

The same thing is true in your organization. What do you want your business to look like in ten years? Where do you want to be going?

If you’re formulating and writing out your personal or organizational vision, there are a few critical elements you have to include. Let me go through them rather quickly.

1. Compelling

People want to be a part of something special. They want to feel proud of the work they do and the difference they’re making. They want to feel good about the destination they’re headed for.

And a well-crafted vision will do exactly that. It makes people want to get on board. They can see it, and they can feel it, and they want to be a part of it. As one person said, “The difference between a vision and a hallucination is the number of people who can see it.”

2. Courageous

A vision describes where you’re going, not where you’re at. It’s about the future, and that can be a little risky.

It takes courage to go for it. One of my corporate clients says, “We’re not here to test the waters. We’re here to make waves.”

A good vision gives you pause. It might even take your breath away. It requires courage.

3. Clear

A good vision, a motivating vision is also extremely clear. There are no fancy words or ambiguous meanings. And you don’t need a thesaurus to write it. (By the way, what’s another word for “thesaurus?”)

A good vision makes instant sense. You don’t need a dictionary to understand it. You know exactly what it says and what it means. And all too many things don’t make sense. For example, have you ever wondered why there is an expiration date on sour cream?

4. Concise

Effective visions are also concise. They get right to the point. (Ever wonder why the word “abbreviation” is so long?)

Take Disney’s vision, for example: “We create happiness.” They don’t waste any words, and I would bet that any one of their employees could easily memorize and state their vision.

5. Connecting

Truly great visions enroll people. They connect with the personal values and career aspirations of people. They engage the actions of others.

Walt Disney knew that. He said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

The same is true of a vision. You can write a nice-sounding vision, but it’s basically worthless if it doesn’t connect with people.

Futurist Joel Barker said it well. He stated, “Vision without action is only a dream. Action without vision is just passing the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

Action:  Take out your vision statement for your life and for your organization. Evaluate it using the five elements outlined in this “Tuesday Tip.” How well does your statement stack up to these five elements? Modify yours if modifications are necessary.