I often talk to our team and other entrepreneurs about the importance of vision, whether it's for the business, a project or something personal. But admittedly I recently fell into the trap of losing sight of the big picture.
I was in a discussion with a customer about the status of a sizable project, and I asked him how we are doing. He gave me feedback, both good and bad. Of course I honed in on the negative and immediately tried to resolve every issue. Then he said to me, “Tony, we are fine. Take a step back. Let me remind you of the vision for this project.” I started laughing, because I too needed to be reminded to take a step back.
We all tend to get caught up in the moment and focus our energies on what's right in front of us. And that is precisely why we need a vision. When you are leading a group, people look to you to paint the picture of where we are headed. When you are in the group, you look to the leader to help you stay focused and motivated to get there.
I've been very frustrated with American politics lately, mainly because candidates don't seem to have vision. You listen to the debates and ad campaigns, and they don't communicate their big-picture goals for our country, like what they want our educational system to look like in 10 years. All they want to talk about is the here and now, and what's wrong with the opponent. I don't know about you, but I become unmotivated because I don't feel like they are leading or that I'm a valuable part of the process.
The same scenario easily translates into the workplace and even the non-profits we support. If we don't have a clearly articulated vision, then we can't be surprised when those around us begin acting shortsighted or productivity goes down. That is why it's important to communicate your vision on a regular basis.
The difficult part is that sometimes we are forced to change the vision before we are ready. Maybe your team achieved the big picture objective earlier than planned or a charity solved the problem it set out to fix. But we can't be afraid to create the next iteration.
Whether you are defining the vision or changing it, take a step back and look at the future. Assess the needs of the stakeholders – whoever they are. Balance that with resources and people, and build the actions to accomplish your goals. Tie your strategy to the vision, and remember to communicate it. On the days when you lose sight of the big picture, it will be easier to find your way back.