The experiences and travails during my days at John Fairfax Ltd. have affected me in many ways. They have affected my view of myself, my view of vision, and my understanding of what it takes to make vision a reality. They have also affected how I help others.
Life can be confusing. We are trying to figure out who we are and the direction we should go. Get a job, buy a house, have a family. So many things to do. So many obligations. So many expectations. Who has the time to figure out — still less, follow — your own vision?
Accomplishing a vision is not easy. Accomplishing a great and noble vision is harder still. When you have a vision that you feel so passionate about that you would give your life to, failure is not an option.
There is a lot of discussion these days in the world of sports about who is the greatest of all time (GOAT). This was brought to the fore recently with the tragic car accident of Tiger Woods in California. He suffered extensive injuries to his legs. This raised the question of what this would do to Woods’ quest to chase down Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major golf championships. Tiger is now 45 and has 15 major golf titles. Is time running out for Tiger to chase down Jack’s major championship record and be thought of as the definitive best men’s professional golfer of all time?
Bringing a vision to reality is not easy. You might have a vision for a new business you want to start. You might want to take your department at your company to the next level. Or you might have a nonprofit you want to start that you just know will help people that so need to be helped. But once you have such a vision, what do you do with it?
It is hard enough to find your mission, your purpose in life. But our mission, our purpose in life, can drift if left to its own devices. Years down the track, we might be a long way from where we started. But not by choice, by drift. Mission drift. For anyone passionate about devoting their life to a higher purpose, a cause that is focused on helping others — a life of significance — that is a sobering reminder. Mission drift can happen. To anyone. It’s a bit like an ocean liner: A slight shift in the rudder by a few degrees can lead to a significant change in course. You might have been heading to France, but you ended up in Iceland.
A key to living a life of significance is having a compelling vision you can devote your life to. And one of the most critical factors in seeing that vision come to reality is the level of passion you have for it. A vision without passion is like a car without an engine. It may look like a sleek Ferrari, but without an engine, it is going nowhere. An abiding passion for your vision is critical for its success.
We have spoken of how inspiring a group of people with a shared vision is one of the hardest challenges in leadership. Growing your vision is not easy. Having your vision impact the world for generations is perhaps the ultimate goal for a visionary, but such a goal can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Impossible! However, Jesus did it. The key is to create a growing wave of ambassadors for your vision across continents and generations.
One of the hardest areas of leadership is to inspire a group of people with a common vision, a shared vision. Why is this?
Typically, leaders are in love with their vision. They have a hard time letting anyone touch their vision. More often than not, their vision is years in the making and a culmination of all their hopes and dreams.