"Good business leaders create a
vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision,
and relentlessly drive it to completion" - Jack Welch
"You got to have a dream, if you
don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come
true?" - Rogers & Hammerstein, South
"Poppop, how much longer?"
My three-year old
grandaughter and I were in the third hour of a five hour
trip and her endurance had just about reached its limit.
It wasn't the first time she had asked the question.
Actually, it was probably about the 100th time the question
had come up. Somewhat exasperated at the contiuing
quizzing over the remaining length of the journey, I
tersely replied, "Kaleigh, I don't know. We'll be
there when we get there."
Silence for a few seconds,
then, "Poppop, do you know where you are
Do you know where you are
going? In your business - or life for that matter - do
you have a vision, a dream - something worth working for,
something that energizes you, excites you, or as Jack Welch
says, "relentlessly" drives you? Or, are you just
working your tail off with no idea of where you are
going? Maybe you have your own business, or are in a
position of leadership in an organization. Have you
defined what success looks like to you?
Visioning is the first step
in Strategic Planning and the beginning point in thinking
strategically. Strategic Planning means planning for a
specific goal. It defines the important and essential
actions required to reach that goal. Your vision defines
that goal. It is where you want to go. It answers
the question, 'What do you want to become?"
A Vision has many
characteristics. First, it is personal. If your
vision does not excite you, then it is the wrong vision for
you. It must speak to you "where you live", to the part
of you that gives action to the rest of you. Your vision
must be yours. It is your dream. It should be what
Second, it is vivid. You
must be able to articulate it. Write it down. It
may be hard to reduce a dream into words, but it's important
that you do so. The exercise will help you clarify it,
mold it, and solidify it so you can return to it later for
inspiration and direction.
Third, it should stretch and
challenge you. Nothing worth while comes easy. If
your vision is within easy reach, you are cheating
yourself. You can do better. But it should not be
out of reach. A vision that is impossible to reach is a
discourager instead of a motivator.
These three characteristics are
true whether your vision is for your personal life or your
professional life. Good leaders may even have one for
each. But particularly if you own your own company, they
may be the same. Nevertheless, creating a vision is the
first step in realizing your dreams.
The next step in Strategic
Planning is defining your foundation, what you will "stand on"
as you work towards the realization of your vision. All
of us have a set of values that guides us. It's
important that you understand what yours are as you plan to
realize your vision. We'll talk about values in the next
"The very essence of leadership
is that you have a vision. You can't blow an uncertain
trumpet" - Thedore Hesburgh, President of the University of