I’m in a mini-series focused on the power of vision. Here’s a snapshot of where we’ve been in the series:
- In Part 1, I began by providing the following definition of vision: vision is a picture of a preferred future. Further, I described the major work of leaders as communicating this picture of a preferred future in a manner that is compelling and unifying.
- In Part 2, I engaged the capacity of vision to provide passion, motivation, direction, and purpose for life and leadership.
- In Part 3, I engaged how leaders can help to make vision stick by casting the vision well, celebrating the vision well, and living the vision well.
- In Part 4, I engaged how leaders can identify their burning passion and compelling vision.
This week, I’d like to provide a final encouragement as you consider the vision you are meant to pursue in the year ahead.
Looking to Your Future
As I write this post, New Year’s Day is just around the corner. In many ways, the start of a new year provides an opportunity for us to do what we should be regularly doing throughout the year—looking to the future and planning in light of it.
As you look out the future, what is the picture of a preferred future both for you and your organization?
First, what does this preferred future look like both personally and professionally?
- Personally: What is your personal vision … for you, your family, and your community in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead?
- Professionally: What is your professional or organizational vision … for you and the community you serve in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead?
Second, what does this future look like at different points along the way on the journey toward your preferred future?
- What does it look like weeks in the future?
- What does it look like months in the future?
- What does it look like years in the future?
Developing a Strategy for Visionary Planning
|Weekly||Carve out 15 minutes at the beginning of each week in order to prioritize your schedule and insure you are working toward your preferred future.|
|Monthly||Carve out 2 hours to evaluate the previous month and then plan for the coming month in light of your visionary priorities.|
|Quarterly||Carve out a day (workday length) in order to evaluate progress in light of your personal and professional vision. Use this evaluation to make adjustments for the coming 2-3 months.|
|Annually||Carve out a 1-2 day retreat (getting away to a hotel, cabin, or retreat center) where you can have focused time not only evaluating the past year, but also reevaluating your overall visionary priorities. This is an annual time to insure that the direction of your life and leadership is moving toward a preferred future in light of the things that matter most in life.|
|Seasonally (each 5-7 years)||Carve out a week or more every 5-7 years for a season of deep rest, refreshment, and renewal. This is not about simply taking a vacation—something that likely happens every year—but rather taking a genuine sabbatical from the normal routines of life. Some professions may allow for this seasonal time to be multiple months of rest, refreshment, and renewal. For other professions and work contexts, this seasonal time may be limited to a typical vacation week. In either case, find a path for intentional reflection on the trajectory of your life and leadership.
Have you seen tangible progress toward major visionary dreams you had 5 to 7 years earlier (degrees you wanted to complete, job changes you wanted to pursue, organizational goals you wanted to accomplish, etc.)?
As you look out into the next 5 to 7 years of your life and leadership, what are your major visionary priorities for the years ahead? What course corrections need to be made now to help navigate toward this preferred future? How can you adjust your schedule, budget, and general pace of life to make space for prioritizing movement toward this preferred future?
Engaging major life questions like this takes time and space for rest, renewal, and reflection. Take time not only for vacation and recreation, but also for sabbatical in order to tackle such visionary reflection and dreaming in your life.
Vision: the Tool for Leading from the Front
Whether thinking of vision personally, professionally, or organizationally, vision is a powerful tool for your life and leadership.
Engaging the power of vision in leadership, Burt Nanus shares these thoughtful insights:
“Vision is the main tool leaders use to lead from the front.
Effective leaders don’t push or production their followers. They don’t boss them around or manipulate them. They are out front showing the way. The vision allows leaders to inspire, attract, align, and energize their followers—to empower them by encouraging them to become part of a common enterprise dedicated to achieving the vision.”
Rather than simply using push and production techniques, as leaders we need to learn to lead from the front. Vision provides the essential tool for moving from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation. Vision provides the path for painting a picture of a hopeful future that motives us personally and others organizationally. As Nanus notes, “Vision is the main tool leaders use to lead from the front.”
Taking Your Next Visionary Steps
As you look to your future, the key is to pay attention and make changes based on this visionary reflection. In the week ahead, I encourage you to take some time to pay attention to your preferred future (your vision), and begin to take steps toward this preferred future in practical, tangible, and meaningful ways.
God’s best to each of you as you make strides toward the things that matter most in your life.
Here are all of the post links for this series: