Visionary – What good is sight without vision? (Second in “Role of a Leader” Series)

I found this quote by Helen Keller while preparing to lead a strategic planning workshop. She said “What good is sight without vision”.  It was so powerful to me because I have seen so many leaders who clearly had foresight in their business, but did not have the ability to develop a vision for the future.  In most cases, these leaders limited their “vision” to what they could see.  Their dreams were measured.  Their goals were vague and uninspiring.  And, in most cases, they had little support from their organization to help them get there (i.e. there was no “buy-in”).

There have been over 3,300 studies of leaders throughout the years.  These surveys have found that great leaders have several qualities in common.  The single most common trait that these studies identified is “vision”.  So if vision is so important, why do so many leaders demonstrate a lack of vision?

Reasons for a lack of vision

There are several reasons for leaders having a lack of vision.  Here are a few that I’ve seen.

Fear of rejection

When you cast a dream, one of the fears is that others will shoot it down.  They will tell you that you are nuts.  They not only won’t buy into your dream, but they will also do whatever they can to dissuade you from pursuing it.

When I was in the process of starting my business, I shared it with some friends.  Most were very supportive.  But a few weren’t.  One, in particular, told me I was nuts.

I was sharing this with a friend and he gave me some wise advice.  He said, “John, don’t ask for directions from someone who hasn’t been where you are going”.  That is some sage advice.  And I now consider that whenever I reach out to someone for advice.

Fear of failure

The fear of failure is truly one the most powerful negative forces that we ever face.  The fear of failure stops most dreams in their tracks.  In fact, research shows that most goals are never attained NOT because of a failed attempt, but due to a lack of trying.  In fact, most goals are not attained because the person did NOT EVEN TAKE THE FIRST STEP toward reaching their goal.  Is that amazing?

Living in the comfort zone

Ah, the comfort zone.  It’s where we like to live.  It’s the easy chair of life.  You know where everything is.  You know what to expect.  There aren’t surprises in the comfort zone.  Income is steady.  Benefits are good.

But the comfort zone can get us in trouble.  I once was caught in the comfort zone.  Complacency had crept in with my job.  I had lost the “fire in the belly”.  I was doing good work, but it wasn’t passionate to me.  And it showed.  It’s one of the only times in my life that I can say I achieved all my goals, but I felt like a complete failure.

What’s the importance of vision?

It gives us a destination

Without a vision, we don’t really know where we are going.  Helen Keller’s quote reminds me of something a friend told me one day.  Bob is blind and has been since birth.  When he was young, he dreamed that someday there would be a surgical procedure or a technology that would allow him to see.  Today, science is getting closer and closer to fulfilling that dream.  But now, in his 40s, Bob will tell you that he has no desire for this.  He will tell you that one day he will have a perfect body, a heavenly body.  And with that body, he’ll have perfect eyesight.  And the first thing he’ll see is heaven and his savior.  Now that’s beautiful!  That’s rich.  That’s a vision!!

In business, in organizations and in our personal development, we should always have a vision for where we want things to be.  This gives us something to shoot for.  A picture of something to aspire to.  Visions are aspirational.  They should stretch us out of our comfort zones.  And they should motivate us to keep pushing ahead.

In hiring and personnel decisions

Simon Sinek once said “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money.  But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears”.

You, too, should make sure your new hires and those that you promote into leadership roles truly buy into the vision.  Ask them if they can put it into their own words.  Watch to see how they live it out in their daily activities.  Reinforce the need to not only know the vision but truly live and breathe it.

It gives us a reason to get out of bed

Not only should a vision be aspirational, it should be inspirational.  It should be big enough to scare us, but not so big that we can’t imagine it.  I once was told that a vision that didn’t scare you wasn’t really a vision.

Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church says that “The stakes are too high for us to die with a small vision”.

A big vision inspires.  A big vision motivates.  Give your team a reason to get out of bed and come to work each day.  Cast a big vision.

Start crafting your vision today

“Those who do not plan for the future cannot have one.”  Do you want your business to succeed?  Do you want to achieve the dreams that you have set out for yourself?  If so, you need to craft your vision and go public with it.  Going public turns your dream into a vision.  It forces accountability.  It’s the best way of making it real and driving your success.

I love working with leaders in developing their dreams.  Our executive performance coaching platform is just one of the tools that we use to drive personal strategy and help you develop the career that you have dreamed of.  Contact me today to find out more.