I’ve always hated that question “where do you see yourself in 5 years”?
I felt like a concrete answer was expected of me, with a specific job role, location etc.
and I’ve never felt that way about my future. My vision for myself has always been about what kind of impact I’ll be having, about the kinds of problems I’ll be solving, how I’ll feel, and the challenges I get to enjoy.
When working with individuals and teams, I’ve seen the same kind of deer in headlights / slight confusion when it comes to a vision for the company or team.
A vision is not tangible so it’s so natural that it feels ethereal and vague.
And for us action takers, rational problem solvers, process-minded individuals, creating a vision can feel like an uncomfortable and unnecessary task.
So I want to share what I’ve seen work, both for individual leaders developing their company vision, and for teams developing a shared vision.
Take time to dream.
“What? Dreaming? We want to take action!” I hear you say (and I’ve said it too)
Yes, dreaming. This is why it matters.
We all look at the question of vision, fly through the mission by vaguely defining it, and then hunker down into thrashing out strategy and tactics. Arguing about which tactic would be best, listing pros and cons, without any meaningful way to decide between them.
If you’ve worked in any type of office environment, you recognise this. We’ve all been there, done that.
And that’s where we go wrong: we take the next steps too quickly. We don’t take time for the foundational step: dreaming.
Dreaming allows us to create a vision. And a vision gives us a meaningful way to decide between the strategy and tactics options.
The dreaming is about the future we want and why we want it.
Creating a Vision
So how do we do it?
Sit in the garden and think about it. go for walks and think about it. Have conversations with people you respect. Talk with your coach. Create a vision board. Make a bullet list. Whatever creative process you have, use it.
Capture your thoughts.
Write your shitty first draft of it, then sit with that for a bit to see how it fits.
Take the time.
My vision of the future is this:
The creative non-conformist people (leaders) who can see that things can change for the better in our world are consistently and exponentially creating those changes.
This is my current articulation of it. I feel it needs work to make it snappy etc but it captures the important bits AND most importantly, I can see what I can do to help make that vision a reality. It informs my mission.
It’s an iterative process
There have been many versions of this; it’s taken me time to get to this.
Each time I spent some time dreaming, articulated it into something that had me start to think of things I could do. The dream needs to inspire action ideas.
Then I created a mission, took action, and had some failures and successes. All of it taught me more about the dream, the vision.
Then I’d come back to dreaming about my vision, knowing what I know now, what do I want for the future and why do I want it?
And I’d get a refined version of it: more clarity, more meaning, better articulation.
And then what?
Visions go hand in with missions. If you’ve got a vision of how the world could be in the future, then what are you going to do about it (as an individual/team/company)? That’s your mission.
Mission: what you will do, for who, and how you will do it.
My mission is to take a creative, non-conformist approach to how I coach so that I can help those philosophically progressive leaders create the changes that will make our world better.
My mission is grounded in my personal zone of brilliance: revealing to others their own brilliance.
Does this all sound idealistic?
I can see why. Time is precious. And we have so many other things to do.
We need to be productive all. the. time.
Yet a vision, and mission, may be the biggest #productivityhack of all.
A vision gives us a meaningful way to decide between the strategy and tactics options.
It’s the best time saver of all.
This is part of my Thought Piece Series where I explore topics related to leadership and provide both answers and questions. My intention is to start meaningful conversations that help us move forward. Want to connect? Click here