Eye exams suck. Especially when you have really bad eyesight. You sit in this tiny room, with the lights dimmed, and then the eye doctor says, “Can you read anything on the chart?”
If I had 20/20 vision, then no problem. But without my contacts or glasses, I can’t see clearly more than about three inches in front of my nose. I’m as blind as a bat. “Are there actually letters on the eye chart for me to read?” I asked the doctor, with more than a hint of suspicion. “Hmmph,” was his non-committal reply.
“The vision thing,” as George H.W. Bush coined it. You either have it, or you don’t. Do you have 20/20 vision (with or without correction), or do you find yourself asking, “Is there anything really there?” When your bosses or clients or staff ask you what you see, is your response closer to “Hmmph“?
One of the most basic keys to leadership, in any business or organization, is having a vision. For yourself. For your staff. For your clients. For whoever or whatever organization is looking to you to understand them and their needs, along with a plan for how you can help them. Your vision can’t be near-sighted. It has to be far-sighted.
Not only that, you have to be able to communicate it effectively. And memorably. And confidently. With a style that is all your own.
Do you need a little help with your vision? Here are some basic questions, simple and clear, that you can use to bring things into focus and see the light at the end of the tunnel (don’t you just love metaphors?):
What do you want to accomplish? Call it a strategy at its highest level, or a tactic if you want it to be done by an underling. Either way, a vision starts here. Make it specific. Make it real. Don’t be a bullshitter.
Why do you want to do it? You’re not going to get very far if you can’t convince anyone that your strategy/goal/task is worth doing.
How are you going to get it done? Yes, you might be the big-idea kind of person, but you still need to understand that your goal is actually attainable. I’m all for BHAG (big, hairy audacious goals), but you also have to be able to take off the rose-colored glasses to be successful ultimately.
Who is going to be doing it? Building a coalition of the willing is key, with a team populated by a variety of personalities and skills. You’ll need to effectively answer the preceding questions before you’ll be successful here.
When is going to get done? Try not to rush things. Stuff takes time, especially good stuff. People who don’t understand how long things take are usually the ones pushing for things to get done yesterday. Resist the urge to please them if it cuts into your vision. They can wait. Delayed gratification is a good thing (just ask your parents).
What does success look like? You’ll most likely already have shared this as the actual “vision.” After all, who wants to buy into something that looks like failure?
How often do you plan to share your vision? People have to know what you’re doing (and why, and how, and who, and when, obviously). But take the number of times you plan to talk about your vision and triple it. In fact, quintuple it. You can’t communicate your vision enough. If, after you’ve been doing your best imitation of a parrot, people start saying they are sick and tired of hearing you talk about your vision, you’ll know then you’re doing it right. And don’t stop.
Think these are too simple to get you started on what you need to do? Feeling like this approach wouldn’t work for you? Then, maybe it’s not simple enough. You see, there’s another issue with the “vision thing”: It’s easy for it to get cloudy, blurred by people who are scared. Or who are pretenders and blowhards. Or who just don’t get it.
Once you can see clearly, just like the song, you’ll be able to see all the obstacles in your way. It’s going to be a bright, bright day for you and your vision.
What kinds of things obscure your vision and how do you clear it up? Share your thoughts in the comments! In the meantime, see you around…