Vision – Why You Need to Know Your “Why”

Vision – Why You Need to Know Your “Why”

I previously wrote an overview article about my Five Factors of Leadership and Team Success. This article will be focused in on the first factor – Vision. 

What is Vision?

Put simply, Vision should explain why you do what you do and where you are headed. This idea and concept has been explored and researched by many, probably the most prominent currently being Simon Sinek. If you haven’t watched his Ted Talk or read his book on the “Start with Why” concept, you should. A good vision should:

  • Be impact-based
  • Set clear targets on where you’re headed
  • Be dependable/consistent – a frequently shifting vision is frustrating, not motivating
  • Address a unifying sense of group identification for people to rally around
  • Engage others (employees, customers, stakeholders) emotionally, motivationally, and intellectually
  • Capture imaginations
  • Challenge, thrill, and delight
  • Clearly sketch how the world will be different when the vision is accomplished

I know that’s a lot to handle, so let’s get into some examples.

Examples of Good Vision Statements

Virtually every company and organization out there has a mission or vision statement. Some are compelling, some are not. Here are some that I like:

“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.” – Nike 

Nike’s statement is very broad in who it addresses – everyone. Yet even in doing that they worded it in a compelling way. To me, it inspires me to become more of an athlete through Nike’s influence and support. 

“To be a premier innovative growth company that improves our customers’ financial lives so profoundly… they can’t imagine going back to the old way.” – Intuit

Perhaps you use some software from Intuit. Quickbooks, Turbotax, and Mint are their most popular. What I like about their statement is they stay true to their core business – financial products. They want their products and services to be so good that customers wish nothing more than to keep using them. As a software developer, that sounds compelling. 

“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power and generosity of donors.”

Perhaps you have volunteered with or been blessed by the services of the American Red Cross. I’ve helped on some of their clean up projects, and their organization and speed to respond is really impressive. What a beautiful way to change the world – alleviate human suffering. I love it. 

Examples of Bad Vision Statements

These examples shouldn’t be too hard to figure out why they aren’t compelling, inspiring, or really that useful. I’ll just leave them here:

“Be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders.” 

“The Company’s primary objective is to maximize long-term stockholder value, while adhering to the laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates and at all times observing the highest ethical standards.”

“To supply outstanding service and solutions through dedication and excellence.”

Not inspiring, motivating, or unique. Don’t do this. 

My Vision for More Than Engineering

I’m not claiming to have a perfect vision statement, but I did try to craft something compelling to me. I would like to know what you think, so please write something in the comments or send me an email. Currently, I state this: 

“I help technical professionals unleash their best selves so they can become transformational leaders.”

In addition, there is more I want to do. I want to help technical professionals grow beyond technical expertise and truly lead at work, home, and in the community. I want to help people be kinder at work and at home. I want people to know they have significant value in this world and to see it in themselves. I want to grow the economy through successful business and job creation. I want people to live up to their potential.  

Vision is More Than a Statement

A vision statement is no good if it’s not actually true. It must be believed in and acted upon. As Steven R. Covey has stated, “There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.” Creating the statement is only the mental or first creation. It’s when an individual, team, or organization acts upon the vision that it really comes alive. Don’t just spend time wordsmithing – create something that really embodies what you have to offer, and what impact you’ll have on others. Then, go create it in the physical world, and make that vision come to life.

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