Throughout time, great leaders have always had vision. Vision is one of the most important elements to being a champion. The Ancient Writer states it this way, “Where there is no vision, the people perish. Vision keeps us on track. It even shows us where the track is. So, if vision is so important to success and happiness then where do we get it? That is not an easy question. One way is to ask yourself where you want to be ten years down the road? What will you have accomplished? Where will you live? Who will be with you? Questions like these will help you discover your inner vision for your life.
I believe that there are two elements we have to keep in mind if we are to be successful with our leadership vision. One, the vision needs to be a challenging vision to stretch you and your team (REMEMBER: In order to reach your vision, you are going to need to get people on board with it which means you have to lead them. Every great leader has a vision that is worthy of following and the confidence and integrity to get people to follow them).
When I think about a leader with a challenging vision, I think of President John F. Kennedy. In 1961, he stood before the nation and said, “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” That would be a challenging vision for NASA to repeat today let alone in 1961.
Let me remind you where we were when JFK made that statement. In 1961, we had just successfully launched Alan Shepherd into space as the first American into space. Up until that point we had had failure after failure. It was a miracle we didn’t kill Alan Shepherd in the attempt to get him up there. Rocket after rocket had blown up in our faces. The Soviet Union was stomping on us in the space race.
Then, we have one success and President Kennedy said we are going to the moon. Our scientist probably wanted to send him to the moon. What an outrageous statement. Did we know how to accomplish it? Probably not. Was it possible? Some of them probably weren’t sure. But what happened at 4:17 P.M. in the afternoon on Sunday July 20, 1969? The spacecraft ever so smoothly landed on the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong called back to earth, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Later, as he and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of Eagle onto the moon, Neil said, “That is one small step for man one giant leap for mankind.” We had done it! We had landed two men on the moon and we did return them safely back home to earth. You see, a challenging vision isn’t one you necessarily have all the answers to at the beginning, but one that will stretch you to accomplish something you didn’t know you were capable of. It makes you stronger and better.
The second thing we have to keep in mind in order to make our vision a reality is the courage to put it into action. Michele Borba tells a story about Rocky Lyons. When Rocky was five years old, he and his mother Kelly were traveling in their pickup truck down a country two lane road. Rocky was asleep with his legs resting on his mother’s lap. When they turned onto a narrow bridge, the truck hit a pothole. Trying to get the truck out of a rut, Kelly sped up and turned the steering wheel. Rocky’s foot got caught between the steering wheel and Kelly’s leg and she lost control of the vehicle. The truck tumbled over a 20-foot ravine.
The crash woke up Rocky. He looked at his mother and said, “What happened, Mama?” Kelly was hurt bad. She was covered with blood. Rocky said, “I’ll get you out, Mama.” He crawled out the window and tried to pull his mother out of the truck. It didn’t work. He climbed back into the truck and somehow used his 40-pound body to push his 104-pound mother out of the wreckage.
Rocky was planning on climbing to the top of the ravine to get help for his mother. Fearing he would get hurt, Kelly refused to let him go by himself. Inch by inch they struggled along. Rocky not only had a vision to save his mother, he also knew how to motivate her to success. He told his mother to remember that little train. He was referring to the train in that children’s classic The Little Engine that Could. In Rocky’s own version of that famous line, he kept motivating his mother by saying, “I know you can, I know you can.”
Well, they made it to the top and Rocky flagged down a vehicle. They got Kelly to the hospital and after 8 hours of surgery and 344 stitches, she was put back together. She looks much different today then she did before the crash. BUT SHE IS ALIVE! She is alive because a five-year-old boy had a vision to save his mother and the courage to put it into action. Rocky just did what he had to do. He wasn’t trying to be a hero. He just did what he was called to do.
That is what vision is all about. A challenging vision which will get you out of your comfort zone and the courage to put it into action. What is your vision? Is it to change the entire world or just your corner of it? Whatever it is; wherever it is, GET THAT VISION AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Take some time right this moment to think about and answer the following questions. Then, come up with 3 action steps to start the ball rolling towards your vision.
1. If you knew you could not fail, what would you want to accomplish?
2. Where do you want to be in your career in five years?
3. Where do you want to be with your relationships in five years?
4. If you were able to hear the eulogy at your funeral, what would you like to be said about you?