07 February 2008

Manifest Your Destiny

At the beginning of each month a personal or professional development topic will be featured along with additional points or a worksheet that delves more deeply into the topic. This article can also be found in the Feb. 7, 2008 Opinion section of the Saipan Tribune located at www.saipantribune.com.

Vision without action is merely a dream; action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. – Joel Arthur Barker

Creating Your Vision

A positive vision of the future is the most forceful motivator for personal and organizational change. That may be a strong statement, but if you think about it, without aiming toward a definite purpose your business or life will just pass time and be at the mercy of external forces. People within an organization question the direction the company is headed and waste time and resources when there is no vision.

In 3,300 studies on leadership, researchers sought the common qualities that great leaders possessed. Vision was the one quality that all of the studies had in common. When you have a positive image of the future you are like a navigator who follows a guiding star to lead yourself and organization toward a positive future reality.

Let’s look at how a positive vision of the future can make a difference in your organization or personal life. The process is slanted toward creating a vision for your organization, but you can tailor the questions to help you discover your personal direction.

The five steps all start with the letter “C”: Clarity, Comprehensive, Compelling, Communication, and Commitment. Grab a pen and paper so you can answer some questions.

Clarity. You should specifically define what you want for your business, or as an individual. You get what you ask for, and if you don’t know what to ask for, you are definitely not going to get it. If the vision is too vague, it will be difficult to focus on the destination. Be specific by imagining your future in rich detail, filled with feeling and emotion. Your picture should be so clear that it becomes tangible and empowering. Clarity allows you to know what you want and how you’re going to get it. Here are some questions to help you focus on your vision:

What specifically do I want for my life or organization?
How did I get to this place in my life?
When will my business or career be complete?
What will it look like and feel like when it is complete?

Comprehensive. Your vision must be detailed enough so everyone in the organization understands how their position contributes to the whole picture. Gather information and understand the needs of those affected by the vision, but it is the leader who should initiate the process by developing a coherent, powerful vision. A clear picture offers greater details and allows everyone to know how they will contribute and participate. Here are some questions to ask:

How will I know when I’ve achieved all that I should?
What limitations, roadblocks or obstacles did I need to overcome to purse my vision?
What will my customers, employees, co-workers, suppliers, shareholders, or loved ones get from the vision?
How does this vision for my organization fit into and support my perfect life?

Compelling. With a clear and comprehensive vision, you must now ensure that it is compelling to all those involved with it. The more compelling your vision, the easier it will be to take the first steps. Ask yourself:

What do I get from my business? Recognition? Money? Prestige? Satisfaction? Self-fulfillment?
How much of it will I get?
Is it enough for those involved with the vision to want to give their continued support?
Is the vision compelling enough to motivate me and others through any difficulties or pain that might need to be endured?

Communication. Your vision will be a powerful force for change, but only if it is communicated in a compelling way that inspires others to embrace your vision. Ask:

Who do I need to communicate the vision to in order to get their support?
How can the vision be communicated on a consistent basis so that it remains a top priority?
How can I present the vision to others in a way that will inspire them?
What slogan, motto, or easily remembered phrase can I use to remind people of the vision and allows them to communicate it easily to others?

Commitment. As a leader, you must gain commitment and support from your team to realize the vision. This is the first step that will transform your vision into reality. As you share your vision, get agreement on the direction the organization will take. This is critical because when everyone agrees on the direction, every decision made by the organization can be measured against vision’s direction. Individuals will be more empowered to make decisions that they know will move the organization in the right direction.

Commitment will also come when others see your commitment to take action toward attaining the vision. Through persistent commitment, you will be able to effectively attract the resources and people needed to fulfill your vision. Great leaders are individuals who have a vision and extraordinary commitment, which is what attracts us to them. Ask these questions:

What would make me personally commit myself to this vision over the next few years?
Am I truly committed to the vision in a way that encourages the commitment of others within the organization?
Do all the external stakeholders in the organization understand and support the vision?

Now that you have answered the questions, it’s time to put your vision into action. If you have a clear, compelling vision that is understood and communicated in a way where everyone feels valued, and is committed to the new direction, then you have a positive image of the future that creates excitement. Your vision will be manifest in the future as you live into it every day.