“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done” – Ralph Lauren
Why You Need a Strong Vision
Not having a vision is sort of like getting in your car and just driving. You have no end goal, no destination, and you may end up in the middle of nowhere. Without a strong vision, you have nothing to anchor your brand to, and you’ll float in a sea of sameness with other brands that have no purpose other than to survive.
Without a vision, you will be unprepared for the future, miss opportunities, have mismatched priorities, and ultimately waste valuable resources. As you can see, the stakes are high for those that can’t imagine their future.
However, if you can envision your future, then you have the ability to see opportunities where other people see obstacles, innovate with focus, and guide your company to a better future. This clarity is the real power of vision.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
What’s the difference between an idea and a vision?
All visions are ideas, but not all ideas are visions. A strong vision has four immutable characteristics.
1. It’s specific with detail, not generalizations
“I want to make a million dollars,” or “I just want to help people” are examples of generic ideas. I want to go to France is nice, but if you said I want to go to France so I can help with the immigration crisis by using my construction skills to build 1,000 longterm housing projects, then you would have a much more defined vision.
2. It’s not about you; it’s about others
It’s about how your company or skillset will help other people. When asked about vision, many companies talk about their “goals,” which is just them focused on serving themselves. Other people don’t care about how you are striving to help yourself, but they do care about how you are helping others.
3. It’s big and makes you a little scared
For a vision to grab people’s attention and imagination, it has to be significant in proportion to the company that is trying to execute on that vision. The Pareto principle (i.e., the 80/20) rule works well here, which means that your vision should be about 80% bigger than your company at a minimum. If your idea doesn’t scare you a little, then you might need to go back to the drawing board.
4. It’s Easily Understood and digested
Once you have achieved the first 3 ideas above, others will want to join your cause because they can understand the role they play in helping you achieve your vision. It might be working with you, funding you, or connecting you with other people who can help.
Clearly Stated Vision Examples
Bad: I want to go to France to help with the refugee crisis.
Good: I want to go to France to work with non-profit organizations to help 100,000 refugee women and children find food and shelter by 2025.
Bad: We’re going to build a world-class space program.
Good: We’re going to put a man on the moon by the end of this decade.
Bad: We’re going to be a city known as a great place to eat, work, and shop.
Good: By 2027, we’re going to be a city known for being North Texas’s culinary destination by having trendsetting restaurants, farm-to-market produce, and innovative food-focused events.
3 Benefits of a Strong Vision
- A strong vision helps you better communicate as a leader. Over two thousand years ago, the prophet Jeremiah said, “Without a vision, the people will perish” You, as the leader of your company, have a commitment to let people know where you’re company is going. A vision will allow you to communicate not only where you are going but what your team should be doing to achieve that goal.
- A strong vision reminds your team what your building, and why it matters. When your team can keep the vision at the forefront of their mind, it will inspire them to overcome any challenge as a team instead of acting as a collective of individuals.
- A strong vision will anchor you in the sea of change. As the market changes, you can update your vision to course correct, but you can’t course-correct without a destination in mind.
Vision vs. Mission
Many companies confuse their mission and vision. Vision is what you are doing in the future, and mission is what you’re doing right now. Vision is like planning a trip, and the mission is the plan needed to arrive at the destination you have in mind. If your mission and vision are interchangeable, then you may only have one but not the other.