Do You Have a Vision or Do You Have a Sleep Aid?

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Motivational Speaker Bill Stainton
Typically when organizations hire me it’s because they want to produce results—more results; better results. (Although occasionally it’s because they really like the Beatles, and in that arena, I’m “the guy.”) One of the first questions I’ll ask them is, “What’s your Single Shared Vision?” The responses vary:

  • “To be the best.”
  • “To make money.”
  • “Umm…errr…duh…. What was the question again?”

Every now and then they’ll say, “You mean like a vision statement? Yeah, we got one of those. It’s hanging up somewhere in the lunchroom.” Then they take me to view the precious document. It’s printed on ancient parchment, in Olde English type (hand lettered, I believe, by Benedictine monks). Once the dust is wiped from the glass, I see that the paragraphs-long vision statement contains phrases like:

  • “To be recognized as a leader in quality and value where ingenuity and commitment will lead to superior financial and operation results….”
  • “To enhance the long-term value of the investment dollars entrusted to us by our shareholders….”
  • “To consistently strive to improve efficiency and productivity through implementing best practices….”

Folks, this is not a vision statement! It’s more of a sleep aid.

It certainly isn’t a Single Shared Vision. Let’s break that down. A Single Shared Vision is:

  1. Single. This doesn’t mean unmarried. (Well, it does, but not in this context.) It means one. One overriding idea that drives all others. Some examples:
    • Microsoft: “A computer on every desk.”
    • NASA (in the 60s): “A man on the moon by the end of the decade.”
    • The Beatles: “Bigger than Elvis.”
  2. Shared. As in “Everybody knows it; everybody owns it.” Posting something in the lunchroom doesn’t mean it’s been shared. That just means it’s been posted. A vision is truly shared when every employee knows it by heart, and truly believes in it.
  3. A Vision. A vision is not a goal. Goals are what you accomplish in order to achieve your vision. A goal is something you do; a vision is something that excites you. You do a goal; you live a vision. You can see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, touch it. It’s what gets you up in the morning. Now, with that said, here’s a quick multiple choice quiz. Which of these would be more likely to excite you and get you up in the morning?
    • “To enhance the long-term value of the investment dollars entrusted to us by our shareholders….”
    • “To be bigger than Elvis!”

In an upcoming article, I’ll take you through my 7-Step System for discovering and clarifying your own Single Shared Vision. But for now I’ll leave you with two simple tests you can use to see if your Single Shared Vision is on the right track.

Test #1: The Bumper Sticker Test. This one’s easy. If your Single Shared Vision won’t fit on a bumper sticker, it’s too long.

Test #2: The “Cool” Test. What does this mean? It means that when you share your vision with your team (or even better, co-create it with your team), their reaction should be, “Cool!” Ideally, you want a vision that is so compelling that your team thinks, “Wow! We get to come to work and do that!”

A compelling, emotionally-rich Single Shared Vision is one of the best tools you can have if you really want to produce results—in your business and in your life!


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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