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.
I was walking on Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida, a few weeks ago — the day before we were to return to Maryland. Siesta Key Beach is rated as one of the top beaches in the US, but today it was shrouded in fog. You could barely see 100 yards in front of you, out to the Gulf or inland to the condos lining the beach. The fog was so dense that you could feel the moisture on your skin.
Abraham Lincoln is commonly regarded by most historians as the greatest American President. The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy said that Lincoln’s supremacy compared to other great leaders in history was due to “his peculiar moral power and … the greatness of his character.”
We have looked at several different areas of leadership. Some have been internal, such as character, and some have been external, such as vision. We have talked of the ‘being’ of a leader. Character, internal beliefs, and crucible experiences often lead to vision. But how do we make vision become reality?