The Christian School's Compelling Vision: Do You Have One?
A vision statement is a vivid idealized description of a desired outcome that inspires, energizes and helps you create a mental picture of your target. It could be a vision of a part of your life, or the outcome of a project or goal. Vision statements are often confused with mission statements, but they serve complementary purposes.
In general, you should base your vision statements on the best possible outcome. In fact, you might want to envision something even better than what you consider to be the best possible outcome. Remember that the purpose of the vision statement is to inspire, energize, motivate, and stimulate your creativity, not to serve as a measuring stick for success; that is the job of your objectives and goals. A friend once attended a training seminar where one of the exercises was to come up with as many ideas as they could for earning ten dollars by the end of the day. This was supposedly an exercise in brainstorming. After a few minutes, the instructor polled the audience for some of their ideas. Some ideas were better than others, but everyone agreed that even the bad ones could have earned someone ten dollars in a day. The instructor then asked if any of the ideas presented could earn someone a million dollars. The consensus was that the vast majority of ideas had absolutely no chance to make anyone a million dollars, and a select few had only a very slim chance. At the end of the exercise, the instructor simply said, “You don’t get million dollar ideas from a ten dollar vision.” In other words, the quality of your vision determines the creativity, quality and originality of your ideas and solutions. A powerful vision statement should stretch expectations and aspirations helping you jump out of your comfort zone. Some people may object to the use of such an optimistic or unrealistic vision statement because others may consider it a failure when they fall short of the best possible outcome, even if they meet all the goals/objectives. Unfortunately, this is a very valid concern in many organizations. If this is the case, you can still gain the benefits of a powerful and compelling vision statement by creating two versions: an idealized version to inspire and motivate, and a watered down “realistic” version that you can use as a target. Keep in mind that, back in the early 80’s, Microsoft’s vision of “a PC in every home using Microsoft software” would have been considered by most to be highly unrealistic. I think it is safe to say that, even now, not every home has a PC in it and not every PC runs Microsoft software, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft has failed! It just means they still have room for improvement. Remember that the purpose of the vision statement is not to serve as a “real” target that you are going to measure against to determine if you have succeeded or failed. You should use your goals and objectives to do that. Instead, the purpose of the vision statement is to open your eyes to what is possible. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” I believe this is true in many respects because while knowledge allows you to see things as they are, imagination allows you to see things as they could be. When we become aware of what is possible, we begin to realize that dreams can be achieved, that challenges can be conquered, and that problems can be solved. In doing so we open up a completely new set of avenues and possibilities, which by itself is a tremendous source of passion and energy. As many have suggested, “Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.” Describe Your Vision Statement in the Present Tense – Describe your vision statement in present tense as if you were reporting what you actually see, hear, think and feel after your ideal outcome was realized. Make Your Vision Statement Emotional – Your vision statement should describe how you will feel when the outcome is realized. Including an emotional payoff in your vision statement infuses it with passion and will make it even more compelling, inspiring, and energizing. Add Sensory Details to Your Vision Statement – The more sensory details you can provide, the more powerful your statement becomes. Describe the scenes, colors, sounds, and shapes. Describe who is there and what everyone is doing. These sensory details will help you build a more complete and powerful mental image of your ideal outcome. Do you have questions related to writing a vision statement? Want help, advice, or feedback for a vision statement you are developing? We can assess your situation and provide valuable and expert solutions. © by SchoolRIGHT, LLC., unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.