Without vision what is the purpose?

“Vision is a destination – a fixed point to which we focus all effort. Strategy is a route – an adaptable path to get us where we want to go.”

Simon Sinek

This is one of the best statements I have ever seen for codifying the difference between vision and strategy. For example, you might have the personal vision to use your life to positively and permanently impact the lives of others. This vision doesn’t change course dramatically as you move through life, if anything your vision will become more and more refined and perhaps even narrower as you more fully understand your purpose and reason for being.

The strategies you choose to actualize your vision will by necessity change and evolve as the world changes and as you change. Those things which worked 10 years ago to enable your vision might have lost their effectiveness or perhaps are tools and techniques you might have outgrown.

A good friend and mentor reminded me about 7 – 8 months ago of this simple wisdom from the book of Proverbs. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

Simply put, without a vision, all the effort we put into living our lives is suboptimal to our true calling and capabilities. All the strategies, routes, and plans mean nothing, if you don’t know where you are going…

a writing on the wall
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

The world needs a little more crazy…

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Rob Siltanen

Are you crazy for seeing opportunities where others do not?

Are you crazy if you think there is a much better way?

Are you crazy if your vision is bigger that the world is today?

Are you crazy if you are discontented with the status quo?

If the answer to any of the questions is “yes” then crazy sounds pretty good to me…

ball shaped blur close up focus
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

When it’s not work…

“If you are working something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

Steve Jobs

When is the work not work? What gets you up early and makes you excited to put in the effort? Are you able to spend the majority of your time pursuing things that excite you in this way?

If not, then why not? What would it take to live the majority of your life pursuing this kind of vision?

Do more of these things and you’ll never work again…

The true essence of leadership…

“No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.”

Warren Bennis

There are so many aspects of this quote that I love. Each sentence carries weight and incredible wisdom and merit. In fact, for me, it is worth digging into each sentence and letting it roll around in the mind and over the tongue like a fine wine. Each sentence builds on the preceding sentiments until you finish with a crescendo akin to a bombastic symphonic masterpiece. (Okay, so maybe that is just a bit too much hyperbole but you get where I am going…)

“No leader sets out to be a leader.” – True leadership is about serving not about becoming served. To become a leader, as I define it, means that you cannot and must not forget that leadership is not about you. It is about those whom you serve.

People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. – How rare and beautiful it is for people to get to be their true and authentic selves in every aspect of life. We all set out this way, and then along the way things change, we begin to amend ourselves to meet the expectations of the world around us. Leaders hold true to their “north star” and manage to maintain their authenticity along the way.

When that expression is of value, they become leaders. – When others see a future vision they also believe in or subscribe to, then leadership occurs. If what you believe in, and value, is valuable to others then they will see you as a leader.

So the point is not to become a leader. – A-Freaking-Men! The best leaders I have ever known or worked with were NOT leaders because of the pursuit of roles or titles, it was because they were pursuing something bigger than themselves and you just naturally found yourself wanting to be part of that thing that they were passionate about.

The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. – If we are doing less then this, aren’t we choosing to be less than the person that God created us to be? How many people waste their lives in the pursuit of what others say is important? Instead, we should put all our energy into identifying those things we are deeply passionate about and pouring every ounce of ourselves into the pursuit of that vision.

You must withhold nothing. – Anything less than 100% commitment to that which drives and motivates you is a waste of the perfect and precious gifts you have been given.

You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” – Life is a journey, not a destination. When you focus on becoming the person you were very intentionally designed to be and pour yourself totally and completely into that effort, the journey itself is all the reward you will ever need.

In the end, leadership is a journey, not a goal. It is the ability and opportunity to pursue your God-given passions and do so with people for whom it is a privilege to serve. Be true to yourself, your passions, your opportunities to give back and enjoy the journey. You just might find yourself influencing the lives of others in unique and amazing ways, and that my friends is the essence of leadership…

two people standing in forest
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Look in the mirror…

“We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.”

John C. Maxwell

The essence of leadership is influence. The ability to influence the lives of others and create a commonality of vision and purpose. The results of effective leadership are alignment, engagement, commitment, execution, etc.

What does this have to do with today’s quote? Good question. To create influence, which enables the ability to create the desired results, one must show an ability to demonstrate self-leadership and self-influence. All the vision casting and talk about the future is worthless if you can’t demonstrate through your actions and behaviors a commitment to hold yourself to a higher standard.

crowd reflection color toy
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

I love how the picture above illustrates the importance of self-reflection as a leader. If you want to have influence you must be willing to look in the mirror and see and understand your own opportunities for growth. If you want to influence others, you have to prove that you can lead yourself first. You can’t lead anyone if you don’t walk the talk and lead by example.

This is the wisdom that I take from today’s quote. You must have self-reflection as an intentional practice in order to create true influence with others. You can’t lead anyone if you won’t lead yourself first…

Don’t be “most people…”

“We have enough people who tell it like it is—now we could use a few who tell it like it can be. ”

Robert Orben

people doing group hand cheer
Photo by Dio Hasbi Saniskoro on Pexels.com

Do you have people in your life who tell you what is wrong with you? What is wrong with your life? What you are missing? Why you aren’t enough? Ignore them! Ignore the shallow souls who will limit what you are and who you can become because of the limits and boundaries they have created around their own lives.

You probably have more than enough people in your life telling you how you should be and how you need to live. Seek out and surround yourself with people who are positively driven and inspire you to be more, do more, become more. Most people aren’t like this. Most people don’t invest the time effort and energy into these thoughts. If you want to become more than most people you have to surround yourself with those who aren’t like most. Find people that are relentlessly focused on being more, helping more, serving more, becoming more, doing more, just more more more.

It always amazes me when seemingly unrelated things come together in a profound and meaningful way. I had one of those moments this morning when I sat down to write this post after having done my morning devotional. The verse I was studying this morning, after I had already chosen my quote for the day, couldn’t be more appropriate or aligned.

‘You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ‘ Ephesians 4:22-24

Put off your old self, and those who will contain and limit you to a former way of life. Embrace those who will help you define and create your new self and become the person God meant you to be.

Do you have hope?

“My idea is to give hope, because where there is no hope, there is no vision, and where there is no vision, people will perish.”

Oprah Winfrey

I had to wrestle with this quote for a bit in my mind this morning. At first it felt like a “chicken or an egg” statement. How can you have hope without first having a vision? But on the other hand, how can you summon the energy to craft a vision for the future without first having a sense of hope about what could be? Is it hope that helps you craft the vision or the vision that allows you to have hope?

Then I thought about it from the perspective of who said this quote and the context of what it means through that particular lens. Oprah has done a lot of tremendous good in the world. She has actively lived a life that represents the power of making a positive impact and demonstrated what can happen when a person puts forth tremendous blood, sweat, and tears to pursue their dream (vision). If by living her dream outwardly and setting a positive example for others, she can inspire hope and spark others to pursue their vision, she is seeding hope into the world.

I particularly love how Oprah linked her idea of seeding hope with this verse from Proverbs. “When there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

Find the hope you need to inspire yourself to discover and engage in a brighter vision of the future. You don’t have to create the vision yourself, but you do have to summon the hope needed to move you towards a brighter future. Without hope, vision dies. Without vision, hope dies. Without hope and vision, you will perish, even if your body lives on and you are just going through the motions of life. That is no way to live…

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