Why Vision Is More Important Than Strategy

Vision and strategy are both important. But there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. Always. If you have a clear vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MAEK123, Image #2813602

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MAEK123

I have seen this over and over again in my professional and personal life. Once I got clear on what I wanted, the how almost took care of itself. Let me give you an example.

In July of 2000, my boss suddenly resigned. I was already the Associate Publisher of the division, the second-in-command. With his departure, I was asked to take his job. I became the publisher of Nelson Books, one of the trade book divisions of Thomas Nelson.

I knew our division was in bad shape. But I didn’t know how bad things really were until I became the publisher. I took a deep breath and began to assess reality. Here’s what I found:

  • We were the least profitable division of fourteen in the Company. We had actually lost money the previous year. People in the other divisions were mumbling about our performance and how we had drug the whole company down.
  • Revenue growth had been basically flat for three years. In addition, we had just lost our single biggest author to a competing publishing company. This made revenue growth going forward even less likely.
  • As a percentage-of-revenue, inventory and royalty advances were the highest in the company. In other words, we were the least efficient users of working capital. We were consuming enormous corporate resources and providing virtually no return to our shareholders.
  • We were publishing about 125 new titles a year with ten people. Everyone was overworked and the quality of our output showed it. We simply had too much to do.

Honestly, things could not have been worse. However, as the new divisional executive, I recognized that things could not have been better for me. This was a great career opportunity. If I turned the division around, I would be a hero. If I didn’t, that would be okay, too. After all, the division was a mess when I inherited it. I couldn’t lose.

The first thing I did was to go off on a private retreat. I had one objective in mind. I wanted to get crystal clear on my vision. What did I want to see happen? What would the division look like in three years? I didn’t care about strategy; I was only concerned with vision.

Through the years, I had learned that if you think about strategy (the “how”) too early, it will actually inhibit your vision (the “what”) and block you from thinking as big as you need to think. What you need is a vision that is so big that it is compelling, not only to others, but to you. If it’s not compelling, you won’t have the motivation to stay the course and you won’t be able to recruit others to help you.

For example, if I had been strategic before I was visionary, I might have said, “Well, I don’t see how we can accomplish much. The situation is so dire. We don’t have many resources to work with. Let’s just try to get to break-even this next year. Maybe we can reduce our working capital some by selling off a little obsolete inventory. And, maybe we can sign a few new authors and get a little revenue growth.”

Do you think anyone would have gotten excited about this? Would this vision have attracted the right authors? Would it have retained the right employees? Would it have secured additional corporate resources? I don’t think so.

The problem is that people get stuck on the how. They don’t see how they could accomplish more, so they throttle back their vision, convinced that they must be “realistic.” And, what they expect becomes their new reality. This is simply faith applied negatively.

I didn’t take this approach. Instead, I developed a vision statement that I found compelling. If I couldn’t get excited about it, I couldn’t sell it to others. Instead, I gave myself permission to envision the perfect future. Here’s what I wrote down:

Vision Statement

Nelson Books is the world’s largest, most respected provider of inspirational books.

  1. We have ten “franchise authors” whose new books sell at least 100,000 copies in the first 12 months.
  2. We have ten “emerging authors” whose new books sell at least 50,000 copies in the first 12 months.
  3. We are publishing 60 new titles a year.
  4. Authors are soliciting other authors on our behalf because they are so excited to be working with us.
  5. The top agents routinely bring us their best authors and proposals because of our reputation for success.
  6. We place at least four books a year on the New York Times bestsellers list.
  7. We consistently have more books on the Christian bestsellers list than our competitors.
  8. We consistently exceed our budget in revenue and margin contribution.
  9. Our employees consistently “max out” their bonus plans.
  10. We are the fastest growing, most profitable division in our company.

Once I had this on paper, I came back to the office and called a meeting with my entire staff. I reviewed our current reality. I was brutally honest. The situation was dire, and I didn’t pull any punches.

I then shared the new reality—the vision—and described it in as much detail as I could. I was genuinely enthusiastic and committed. Because I found the vision compelling, most of the them did, too. Some were slow to get on-board, but in the end, even the most reluctant ones came around.

I personally read through this vision daily. I prayed over every part. I asked God to guide us. Little by little, He brought us the strategy and the resources. However, I spent way more time—probably ten-to-one—focused on the what rather than the how.

When people would ask, “How in the world are you going to accomplish this?”, I would just smile and say, “I’m not sure, but I am confident it is going to happen. Just watch.”

And, guess what? It happened. I thought my initial vision would take at least three years to accomplish. Amazingly, we had an almost complete turnaround in eighteen months. We exceeded almost every aspect of our vision.

Over the next six years, Nelson Books was consistently the fastest growing, most profitable division at Thomas Nelson. It had one bestseller after another. It was home to almost all of our company’s bestselling authors during that time.

This didn’t happen because we had a great business strategy. It happened because we had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve. That’s where it started, and that’s where you have to start if you want to experience a different reality than the one you have now, you have to get clear on what you want.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Get alone with just a journal and a pen. If you can get a way to a solitary place, so much the better.
  2. Make sure you won’t be interrupted. Turn off your cell phone, e-mail, television, etc.
  3. Close your eyes and pray. Ask God for inspiration and guidance. What you ultimately want is alignment between His plan and your vision. But don’t make this harder than it needs to be. God usually speaks through our desires. If that’s a new thought, then read John Eldredge’s book, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers.
  4. Write down your current reality—all the things that you don’t like. Be brutally honest. It’s difficult to change unless you find your current reality unacceptable.
  5. Now write down what you would like to see happen. Write it down in detail. If you can, use all five senses. Write it in the present tense, as though it has already happened. This will make it more believable to you.
  6. Share your vision with the people who have a stake in the outcome.
  7. Commit to reading your vision daily. This is critically important. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The more you can “see” this, the more likely it will come to pass.

Remember: Don’t get hung up on how you will accomplish your vision. Just believe God and watch it come to pass.

Question: What is your vision? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.homesanctuary.com Rachel Anne

    First time reader, here. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve printed it off so I can spend some time working on my own compelling vision. I appreciate your recommendations, especially the one about writing it in the present tense. That is a new perspective that I’ve “tried on” over the past few days as I’ve thought about this, and I am amazed at how different things look.

  • Rebecca

    “Without a vision, the people perish!”
    I have seen God honor this approach over and over again in my life and in other’s lives. He is honored when our desires/visions align with honoring Him and excellence honors God. You must start with the vision and He brings the how, every time!! Great post. Thanks.

  • http://www.dkeener.com/keenstuff/blog/?p=31 Keener Living

    The Importance of Visioning

    One of the reasons I have a permanent link to Michael Hyatt’s From Where I Sit blog (see the ”BlogRoll” in the right-most column) is that I think it’s one of the best personal leadership sites I’ve come across. Unlike so many blogs that seem to favor q…

  • http://businesscoaching.typepad.com Paul Simister

    Great article.

    One of the things that disappoints me about small businesses I encounter is how few have a vision of the future.

    Too often it’s just about hitting an arbitrary sales total for the month.

    I know that this is a problem that Michael Gerber has also experienced in his work with small businesses and why he launched his latest idea – In the Dreaming Room.

    It seems the E Myth was taking people so far but wasn’t awakening the entrepreneur within. More on this on The Business Coaching Blog under Michael Gerber.

  • jenny g

    Thank you so much, this is a GREAT POST. It gives me a really +++++++++++ energy! And I needed it… I’m lost in life and in Asia for the moment… knowing I have to “create a vision” but your post just gave me the “GO” and the faith!!!!!!

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stephenbateman stephenbateman

    So the most recent comment was a year ago…But I'm going to throw in that this is one of the best posts on vision I've ever seen…

    Do book publishers get to write their own books?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. I am actually working on a book now called The How of Wow.

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  • Robby

    Hi Michael, I just noticed that the Book, Journey of Desire, has been renamed to Desire. Just FYI. Thanks for the thoughts….

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  • http://sunshines-view.blogspot.com/ Tiffany

    This is a brilliant strategy. Thank you for sharing.

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  • Anonymous

    Mike, Thanks for this post. I think this is really what I was thinking about when we spoke for a few minutes at Catalyst this year. As I said before, I appreciate the encouragement you gave me then–saying I have time to figure out what I want. That journey of figuring out what I want, I have definitely begun. I even feel like I have so many strengths and tools from what I’ve read, discussed in classes, written about, discovered about myself, and so on, that if I had something to latch on to, I could do a really good job. I just don’t have a goal or a vision. But I’m not afraid of not having it. In fact, I’m really excited because of what I see happening in others’ lives, and because of what I continue to learn about how I personally work on my own and in interaction with others. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn what interests, passions, and talents God has given me, what things I’m most alive when doing, and not bury them but instead risk them as the master in the parable wants us to do.

  • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

    Michael, not sure if I completely agree with your subject on this one, I think that they are equally important… 

    You can have a brilliant vision, but without strategy or willpower to get it done, it’s useless.I would say that vision is more important to get done right, before strategy, for sure!

    • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

      I agree that strategy is important, but I think he’s saying that vision MUST come first. The fact that vision precedes strategy makes it more important. Like with building a house — the foundation is more important than the walls. Yes, both (in practicality) are important, but without a solid foundation, you walls will not survive anyway in the long-run.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Yes, it is a question of priority and what you give your attention to first. Also, once you have the vision figured out, several strategies can get you to our destination.

        • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

          In my current job at The Karis Group I am implementation manager, standing squarely between sales and service.  I love it, but I find myself going very quickly — too quickly — to operationalizing.  I think it is just the role I am in.

          Do you see it helpful if you are in the middle of the leadership chain to have personal vision statements for your role/function?

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Yes, absolutely. Ask yourself, if I were performing at an optimal level in this job, what would it look like. That will begin to shape your vision. Think “what could be” rather than “what is.”
            Hope that helps.

        • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

          That, I understand.  Vision must come first.

        • http://www.n2growth.com/blog Mike Myatt

          Michael and Joey – I agree the order of operation is critical – I developed the following sequencing more than 20 years ago and it’s as valid today as it was then: “Values should
          underpin Vision, which dictates Mission, which
          determines Strategy, which surfaces Goals, that frame Objectives,
          which in turn drives the Tactics that tell an organization
          what Resources, Infrastructure and Processes are
          needed to support a certainty of execution.”   

        • http://colebradburn.com/ Cole Bradburn

          Be in love with the vision, but only be infatuated with the strategy.  As you said, there are many paths to get you to your destination, but you must make sure you can see your destination.

      • http://twitter.com/lettner Michael Lettner

        Using your house analogy, I would think of it more that vision is knowing what the house is going to look like before it is even started to be built. You need to know how many bedroom, baths, what type of material, layout, etc.  If you didn’t have vision and just worked the strategy, you would start building the foundation, and then figure out where you want to build walls and layout rooms, etc. but in the end it wouldn’t turn out like you want it to, because you didn’t start with a vision of what it is going to look like in the end and figure out the strategy from the vision.

        • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

          Yes, you are right. That is a much better analogy. (I should have had my 2nd cup of coffee and thought through it a little more before responding!)

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I agree. It’s both vision and strategy. Stephen Covey compares it to climbing a ladder. You may be really good at climbing, but if it’s the wrong ladder, it doesn’t really help. Vision decides which ladder to climb. Strategy climbs.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I just had another thought … Think of it this way: vision is the what. Strategy is the how. (Purpose is the why, but that’s another post.) Thanks.

      • http://twitter.com/_salam_ Kevin Bushnell

        That’s a great summation of your blog post, Michael.  Thank you, that’s really helpful.

      • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn


      • Anonymous

        Michael, it sounds like you have a series post….The What, the How, and the Why… can’t wait to see it all.  Going to find my quiet place and write my what today.  

      • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

        I was thinking about this same thing as I read.   Mission: why, Vision: what, Strategy: how.  Without the what and why…who cares how?!

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        Yes! As I’ve been replaying this blog post in my head all morning, I’ve been thinking of it as “what” vs “how.”

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      I see your tension, Dave.  I believe vision must come first.  But, strategy better be right on the heels.  

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        This quote sums it up – “Vision without action is a dream.  Action without vision is nightmare.”  Both are needed for success.  

        • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

          Great quote!

      • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

        Thanks Tim.  You’re right.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Dave, your point goes well with what Michael is saying. Priority wise, it’s vision first, then strategy. But both are necessary as far as accomplishment is concerned.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      They are both important, but how can you have a clear strategy if you don’t have a clear vision? 

      • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

        Understood.  My point is I don’t think vision or strategy stands out as more important than the other.  Just my opinion…

      • Yunus Dulal

        Yes, you are right! Vision is power of Human or Business.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Getting the vision is so important. Without it a great strategy is not going to help. But as you point out they are both necessary and must work together!

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    My vision starts with putting God first in my life on a daily basis.  After that, my vision includes a thriving marriage.  (Strategically, my wife and I get away once or twice a year for a weekend or more.  We also keep a weekly date night.)  Propelling my kids to Christ is part of the 3rd prong of my vision.  There are other aspects of my vision which include work, friendships, and sharing my faith, but I start with the first three above.

    • Jim Martin

      Jon, I like the way you first apply this to God, your marriage, and then your children.  Sounds like great personal priorities.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, Jim.  I find that getting this right is so important.  When other things come first in my vision, the whole thing fails.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Jon, love your priorities.  My wife and I keep to the same schedule. Couple of times a year we break away without kids.  And we keep a regular date night on calendar. Must have these times!

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        I agree.  When we miss a date night or go too long without a weekend away, you can tell.  We’re looking forward to attending an upcoming Family Life Weekend to Remember conference.  These conferences have been a great springboard for advancing our marriage.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Great vision, Jon!

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks, Joe!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That is great! I can see your priorities there and it seems like you have a great vision for them!

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Thanks Brandon.  For me, it has to start with these three.

    • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

      Good game plan, Jon.  You know your big rocks!

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        “You know your big rocks!”  I love this comment.  Thanks, Travis.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Excellent!  Mine is very similar!

  • Crduffy0423

    Thank you for reminding me that I am in control of my destiny.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    Wow, you just explained why I feel so nebulous about marketing my book. I’ve been thinking that my hang-up has been lack of time, but now I can see that all I’ve been considering has been strategy–I haven’t even thought about vision for marketing. I’m going to take your advice and focus on what success looks like, not on how it will happen. I’m passionate about the message of my book and about the positive impact it will have on people’s lives. Now, I will develop the vision of the joy that message will bring to them. Thank you, Michael!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Wow! Patricia, glad the post helped.  

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      It’s true Patricia that sometimes we tend to get stuck with the strategy and forget the vision! Glad that this post has helped you as it helped me too.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    If I turned the division around, I would be a hero. If I didn’t, that would be okay, too. After all, the division was a mess when I inherited it. I couldn’t lose.

    Does this mean Obama can’t lose the election in November?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It depends on whether people think he made it worse.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    Thanks for this. Too often I want to jump right in and plan a strategy. But I always need to think about the big picture vision first.

    I’ve been thinking about this recently, as I just came up on my 1-year anniversary of when I started working in the most impoverished area of our state. What is myvision (besides pursuing God and leading my family, as Jon Stolpe already commented about)? To help “at-risk” boys break the cycle of poverty, find success, and be productive members of society.


    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Sounds like a worthwhile visions, Joey.

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        Thank you. I need to refine the vision some more, based on Michael Hyatt’s tips. Will be a great discussion with my wife tonight.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Joey, that is great! Can you tell us more about your work/ministry? 

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        Sure! (Especially since Michael Hyatt helped me refine my elevator pitch for my blog. You can read that here:  http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/are-you-new/)

        The key is that our church (in Greenville, SC) has been building partnerships/relationships with folks in Allendale (pastors, school officials, community activists) for a few years now. My family felt led to move down here to be a part of the community. My wife and I are passionate and skilled in working with kids and parents.

        We don’t know how long we’ll be in Allendale, but the long-term goal is to see this community (which was recently labeled as the 10th poorest county in the NATION) changed over the next 30 years.

        It’s rewarding, challenging, energizing, and frusrating all at once. I launched an after-school program last year, but now I’m teaching, tutoring, coaching, and working to get churches and community members involved with helping kids.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      “Help ‘at-risk’ boys break the cycle of poverty”? Great vision, Joey! May God bless your endeavors. 

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa


    • Rachel Lance

      What great work, Joey, blessings as you continue! 
      I’ve found that clear vision in ministry is super important because when your work and ministry are one in the same it’s so easy to  lose a healthy sense of balance because “it’s for ministry”. Sounds like a good excuse, right? Make sure pursuing God and your family are at the top of that vision!

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        Yes, I often fell into that “trap” in my last job (as a children’s pastor). I was consumed with it, not so much because of the work itself, but because of my pride and need to “prove myself.”

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

          —”…prove myself” Been there! True that!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I fall into that same trap. This was a very refreshing post for me!

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    I like the idea of getting away. In order to develop a compelling vision in difficult circumstances, we have to develop the ability to see above and beyond the circumstances. We have to see things as they could be, not as they are.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Jeremy, totally agree.  Every time. I mean every time I break away and find solitude, God speaks. Every time!  

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      I agree with that, Jeremy!

    • Rachel Lance

      Your last line is great, Jeremy. I think seeing things as they could be is a skill we really need to fine tune – it doesn’t necessarily just happen. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Seeing circumstances that way does require no distractions. It also requires great discipline to only focus on the vision and not worry about how to get it done at first!

  • http://wordsofwilliams.com/ Eric Williams

    I think the line between vision and strategy has always been blurred for me. I thought they were synonymous. This makes perfect sense as a man of faith. Thanks for distinguishing the two for me.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Eric, glad the post helped.  Helped me as well.  

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    My vision currently is pretty blurred, although I believe I’m going to find it in this next week. With some time alone for a holiday and my bible notepad and pen ready, I believe God is going to speak the next year to 3 years to me. I am taking on the music team for our young adults ministry this year and I really want God’s vision for it. I’m putting myself on the line by saying that I will have a good picture of what that will be by the end of this week.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Daren.  Hope you receive a huge vision from God.  When God speaks to you, come back and share. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That is an awesome expectation!

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    I’m taking a business trip back to my homestate, arriving a few days early to spend time with my parents, something I haven’t done in 20 years. It’ll be quiet (no children) and peaceful, a great place to hone the vision for my business and ministry. Thank you, Michael, this is well timed.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      The key … (no children).  Love my kids, but it is definitely easier to think without the noise.  I have a 6, 3 and 2 year old!

      • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

        Oh, Tim. You have no idea. This is my family: http://www.jeubfamily.com.

      • Rachel Lance

        No doubt! I only have one little girl, but it’s amazing how much mental, physical, emotional, etc. energy is required to get through a day. I haven’t figured out how I’d manage more than one. 
        Definitely better to do the exercises Michael suggests in a kid-free environment!

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        I just have a 16 month old right now and our next is due in July. I can’t compare to having more than one yet but he sure is a handful and always active!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      That will be a great time to hone in and focus!

  • Ailyn Eida

    Thank you so much for your clarity. I remember my uncle telling me at my HighSchool graduation, that I should imagine where I wanted to be 10-20 years down the line….. I think he was telling me to find my vision, I got somewhat stuck in my strategy…. Working on defining my vision at the moment…..

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Your uncle’s advice was very good. Thanks.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    An awesome post, Michael.  In the past I have worked for Christian non-profits where the hardest part about developing a compelling vision has been the absolute inability to provide a clear and honest description of current reality.  I have thought the issue was unwillingness to assess a situation for fear of calling in to question someone’s sense of calling.  But if we cannot be brutally honest about assessing our current reality, the likelihood of developing a compelling vision is pretty small (as is the pursuit of excellence).

    • Jim Martin

      Thad, your comment has made me think.  I wonder what are the factors are in keeping these Christian non-profits from being honest about the reality of the present?

      • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

        I think for most it is the fear of somehow calling in to question a person’s calling or their faith if they are challenged to improve in their role.   That and fearing what with an honest assessment: change.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Wow Michael, what a detailed post. We need a leader like you to run this country! Vision is so important but so hard to put into words. Creating a powerful vision statement takes time and effort. A few years back, I was on the board of a fast growing church. We hired a company to come in and help us  with our vision and our strategy. It was an exciting time since we were opening a new building, but getting the words right took hours and hours of time. Working with the other board members, we would put words or sentences forth and see how they sounded. Every once in a while, we would have a breakthrough. There is nothing better than finding the right word. After weeks of work, our vision statement came out short and to the point.

    The only thing I would argue is that the “why” needs to be decided before the “what” and the “how.” Unfortunately, The “why” is often the hardest to put into words.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Boy, it is hard work, no doubt.

      In my system, I want to decide what we want to accomplish first. (Or where we go if you prefer.) Then, once I have determined that, I want to decide why it is important or what is at stake. This provides the rationale and the driving force for making it happen.
      Thanks for your comment, John.

  • http://twitter.com/Teeweezee Toyin Agunbiade

    My vision right now is to get a distinction in my Master’s degree but without the strategy in place to do this, I may as well be day dreaming. I really do appreciate the 7 steps you have listed here/ recommended because I have gotten to a point where I feel so frustrated I am tempted to just go ahead with the exams without indepth study (don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare). This actually butresses your point  “Through the years, I had learned that if you think about strategy (the “how”) too early, it will actually inhibit your vision (the “what”) and block you from thinking as big as you need to think. ” 

    So now, I am focusing on the 7 steps and pray it all works out.  Thanks Michael.

    • Jim Martin

      Toyin, I wish you the best in your academic work as you keep before you the vision that you have for your work.

    • http://www.chaplainmike.com/ Mike Hansen

      Toyin-I am post seminary by almost 10 years. In a way, school is the perfect vehicle for the practice of vision. Look, and you will see: a finished paper, that project on track (then complete), an A and ultimately a 4.0. Professors are kind enough to provide the roadmap to reaching goals and accomplishing tasks. Our part is do those. Just a thought.

  • Garrison Reekers

    Wow! This blog post is just what I needed. A couple of years ago I did just what you mention in this blog only I did not read what I wrote every day. Putting it on paper did allow me to see that when I pulled it out about 8 months later that I had accomplished all that I wrote down and some was pretty far fetched.
    I really appreciate your post today because it reminds me that this method has worked for me in the past and it will work again.

    • Jim Martin

      Garrision, I thought much the same thing when I read this post.  This post was I needed to hear today.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      We need those reminders every once-in-a-while. 

  • Ron Alvesteffer

    Great post!  Our Vision at Service Express is “To Work With Our Employees To Help Them Achieve Their Personal, Professional, and Financial Goals”.  This drives everything we do.  Our business just happens to be the vehicle we use to accomplish this.  It all starts with getting the ready people on the bus (Jim Collins!) and in the right seat.  If we help everyone in the company achieve their goals, the company goals will be blown out of the water!  As Zig Ziegler once said…”you can get everything you want out of life, if you just help enough people get what they want”. 

    • Rachel Lance

      Great quotes! Thanks for sharing your company’s approach to vision and goals.

  • http://www.chaplainmike.com/ Mike Hansen

    First, I want to thank you for posting this. The simplicity is what makes this powerful. Secondly, I am discovering that awareness of progress (reading vision daily) is probably the single most important step in the process. I am experiencing this myself just in the area of weight loss. As I track what I’m eating, it find myself making choices I wouldn’t otherwise make, i.e., not losing the weight. It’s huge. 

    My vision isn’t nearly as clear as I would like it to be, but it is roughly: I am fulfilling my calling as minister of the gospel by seeking people’s good and being that good in their lives. It starts with my marriage as I am a loving and available husband and father. It moves out to those I interact with on a daily basis through the ministry of being a hospital chaplain. And it also reaches others through by blog. 

    I pretty much thought that up as I typed, but it’s good to even do that. Thanks again for sharing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. The more clear you can make it, the better! I have a section on this in my free Life Plan e-book.

  • Joe Gartrell

    Wouldn’t the vision be the “why?”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No, vision is what you want to accomplish (at least in my system). It is the dream, destination, or the goal. Once you determine that, then you need to decide why it is important and what is at stake in accomplishing it.

  • Joe Gartrell

    Didn’t see your additional comment on the purpose being the “why”, spoke too soon.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    I am working on my vision for my writing career.  My fear of failure has caused my vision to set goals to achieve the achievable.  Not very compelling.  I have been taking leaps of faith in my vision and setting higher goals. No one will believe in me if I don’t believe in myself first.  Partnering with God is critical, because he sees not what we are, but who we can be in him. I like His vision better.

    • Kitty Block

      I am working on my vision for my writing career as well. One of my biggest problems has been not believing in myself. My vision for the book I’ve just published on how to raise a family that works is that it will strengthen and encourage women in all corners of the world in their roles as wives and mothers. I need to read that daily and take large gulps of faith as I do.

      Thanks, Michael, for a great post!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      His vision is great! I need to pull aside on a regular basis so that I am able to keep His vision in mind and not become clouded with mine or even the vision of others!

  • http://www.theyouthnetwork.org/ Tony Souder

    Michael, this is very helpful. It seems vision has to come first or you don’t know where your strategy is really going to take you. I think the hardest thing for me is getting specific and using all of my senses to get there. In Myers-Briggs language I am very Intuitive and Sensing is my weakest. Any suggestions. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have the same problem. If you are doing this in a team context, you can draw out those who are higher in the Sensing area. If you are doing it yourself, run through a list of questions, one for each of your senses. What do I see? What do I hear? What do I feel? etc.

  • Vsbrowning

    The quintessential motivational speaker and sales trainer Zig Ziglar once said, “Run your day by the clock. Run your life with a vision.” 

    Your post is a great reminder of the value of taking time (the clock) to create a compelling vision of where we want to go and how we are going to get there. 

    As one who has been living in crisis management mode for the past several years, I plan to take that time for envisioning my future this week. It is vital for my own sanity that I began living according to my own mission and vision – creating the life I’ve imagined – rather than continuing to live at the whims of others.

    Thank you for the gentle reminder that “where there is not vision…” dreams perish.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks for the great quote by Zig Ziglar.

  • Stephanie Cunningham Ortiz

    I loved this post and for the reminder that we need that time for reflection over our vision before we delve into a project. When do you know it’s time to re-envision because your original vision is not playing out? What might a failed vision teach us? (Sorry for being such a downer here)… 

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Stephanie —

      I, too, was struck by the idea of taking a private retreat for reflection. I attended a marketing seminar a couple of years ago; the phrase “and then they spent a weekend retreat…” came up over and over and over. Not as some panacea but as a normal expectation that clarity of vision requires purposeful time away.

      • http://twitter.com/CunninghamOrtiz Stephanie Ortiz

        Maybe this is the excuse we needed to to have that retreat! Thanks for validating that idea…

  • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

    I don’t want to sound too much like a ‘fanboy’ here, but this is a singularly powerful post.  
    @dhearn3:disqus is correct, strategy is vital, but without compelling, ‘make your heart beat fast and palms sweat’ vision, the temptation in strategy  is to chase after the next good thing, instead of THE thing that pushes vision, and success forward

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Matthew. I appreciate that.

  • Alan Kay

    Stimulating thinking. I’d say 10 points were a combination of vision and strategic goals. Whatever, this thinking works. As I always tell my clients, knowing there you’re headed – vision – is critical because your strategies won’t be easy to implement and vision carries you forward when there’s uncertainty. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Those are great words to pass along!

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    I seem to struggle with vision as much as I do with setting goals. I know how to do them, but I seem to stumble around in the dark as to what to shoot for.

  • Petrescucr

    I have a vision means that you we don’t jump directly to copy and paste ….to do strategy  we have to be flexible to change all the time accordingly with different situations.
    Vision you have to bealive not only to imagine.

  • Terry Green

    Vision must come first. Effective strategy is always moving from vision to reality.
    I loved your phrasing of, “It’s difficult to change unless you find your current reality unacceptable.”

    • Rachel Lance

      That is a really great line, Terry. Just like developing vision and strategy are leadership skills, so is the ability to maintain the correct level of discontent. 

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    I was part of a Vision and Strategy team last year — what an exhilarating time that was! The hours flew by as we dared “talk turkey” about where we stood and articulated our collective dreams for the future. When I read our “Welcome to 2016″ document to the board, I could taste the change that was to come.

    But organizational culture is a powerful force for stasis. “Tradition” is the single most important value where I work, and it is protected at all cost. Whatever threatens “the way things have always been done” is considered highly suspect and usually discarded.

    I need to let go of my disappointment and walk through your steps for myself. I do not want to look back 10 years from now and blame my lack of vision on an organization. 

    • Rachel Lance

      Cheri, what a key statement: “I do not want to look back 10 years from now and blame my lack of vision on an organization.” I love the personal ownership there.

    • Jim Martin

      Cheri, like Rachel, I want to thank you for that last statement.  Wow.  You are so right!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548586829 Chris R. Smith

    Interesting how much this seems to resemble a life plan! :) Good Stuff!!!

  • Pingback: Blueprints To Success » Dan In Focus()

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    Thanks Michael for writing this precious post! It is very much relevant and helpful.

    I did something similar to what you mentioned in #1. Three years back, when the non-profit org my wife and I run went through a severe crisis, we didn’t know what to do. But I felt like doing something that I never did before. I got into my car and drove to a beach which was far away from our home. At the beach, I spent sometime watching the waves and enjoying the cool breeze. Then I sensed the Lord speaking to me. One thing He asked me was this: “If you were selected by the Board as the new Managing Director, what would you want this organization to be within the next one year? Write that down!” That shook me! It helped me think beyond my normal scope of thinking. And that worked! 

  • Loralee Scott

    Excellent article! I am working as a consultant with a church in the least churched state in the country: Vermont!  When they brought me on board to re-design their Christian Education program, I started by asking them what their vision was, they couldn’t tell me.  Six months later, the pastor has renewed energy, commitment and inspiration because she has developed a vision for the church.  Great insight Michael! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://mackrillmedia.com/ Jud Mackrill

    My favorite take away from this is that you kept your vision as part of your daily focus. Its easy to think you are going to get a vision and then everything will just flow toward it. In reality you need that daily kick to keep your eyes focused on what you are seeking to achieve. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I have fallen to the deception of just writing out my vision and then never taking a look at it. It loses it’s power when we do not review it very regularly!

  • Brian Jaggers

    Great Post! My pastor Craig Groeschel spoke on vision once and the verse has stuck with me since… “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Prov 29:18KJV

  • http://twitter.com/CurtisOFletcher Curtis O. Fletcher

    Funny, we argues this same thing in  graduate class on leadership.

    I think vision comes first but it HAS to be strategically possible. That doesn’t mean we limit our vision thinking but it does mean we have to have a reality check.

    I recently worked for an oraganization that came up with a grand 10 year vision, announced it, got people excited about it, put a stamp on it. Then they started checking to see how they could get there strategically and discovered they could not, at least not given the organizational operating principles that were already set in stone.

    It went from “vision” to “goal” to “desired capacity”. It went from vision to significant distraction.

    Dream big yes, but dream smart…to me THAT combination is what leadership is about.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, it’s totally iterative. I agree.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Great feedback Curtis. I was reminded of a previous post about focusing on your strengths . Your vision must be tempered by your core competencies and resources.

  • http://mylifeasanadventure.com/ barbara

    such excellent post, Michael.  Thank you! 

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    Vision is definitely a catalyst. When I look back over my life, I see that I naturally had vision for improvement most of the time. I rarely knew “how,” but the vision drove the “how” to fall into place. Maybe if I’d have been more deliberate about the process, I would have more success at this halfway point in life. My vision is to have a blog ministry that helps other Christians to live deliberate, intentional and determined lives. I want to help them find balance, be curious and age gracefully. In doing all of this, I want to help others to “make the most of every opportunity” that God has given them. Not sure HOW that will happen, but at least the vision is there.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Without a vision, your strategy would have died.  You had to know what direction you wanted to go.  Good words .

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      This was a great lesson for me!

  • Poejensenpublicity

    I agree that you need to focus on your goals because you will live accordingly. If you don’t see your life as valuable and full of purpose, you won’t push yourself to do more. With that said, I realize I need to write down my specific personal goals as well as professional. This year, I will finish writing my non-fiction book about how people go through awful circumstances and find peace in God when nothing else brings comfort. So far, the working title is “If There Is a God, Why?”

  • Rob Sorbo

    How much of this is a strengths role? I’m terrible at being visionary, but I’m great at being strategic, and I’ve worked with great visionaries who are terrible at strategy. 

  • Jeff Keady

    Mike – What a great blog post today!  Thanks for inspiring, informing, and equipping!

  • Michael Mulligan

    Another great post, Michael.  My wife and I are going through some major changes in our lives and we’re planning on sitting down together for a weekend to complete the “Life Plan” you emailed last week.  Today’s message is the perfect complement to your life plan. I copied your vision statement and pasted it into my welcome page on my blog, then replaced each item with my own personal vision.

    #3 (close your eyes and ask pray) hit me the hardest because if my dreams aren’t in alignment with what God wants for my vision, it’s pointless to write anything down.  Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/kimthebruce Kim Bruce

    Love this, Mike.  I must admit that I get a bit of a ‘high’ off of strategy sessions (‘strategic’ is in my Strengths Finder top 5).  I have been in very boring strategy sessions, and very encouraging ones, and the difference is always about whether or not there is an exciting vision in place.  Great post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kim. I agree. It has to be compelling or most people won’t do the work to get it done.

  • Jill Farris

    I was so inspired today Michael. Thank you. My ultimate goal when I speak to moms is to inspire them with a vision for motherhood. I often start with a quote or a story about a mother who changed the life of her children and changed the world.  God has created women to be incredibly influential in the lives of their loved ones but it is easy to lose the vision when the world is constantly telling them that what they do doesn’t really matter; that a low paid child care worker can do the same thing.

    This post affirmed that I am on the right track when I speak…and it reminded me to rewrite my own vision list. Thanks so much.
    Jill Farris

  • Noah

    I needed to hear this today Michael.  Thanks for giving advice as someone that’s been there to someone that is there (me, minus the publisher of Nelson Books part).

  • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth

    I agree vision is important because sometimes reality is so overwhelming!  The main product that the copmpany that I work for makes is in a declining market, at times the future seems predestined and dismal.  However, there are two ways that I try to look at it. 

    1)  Leadership changes have recently been made and it does feel like there is a vision.  It won’t be easy to get to, but knowing that there is hope up ahead helps keep everyone rowing their hardest.

    2)  Sharing the company vision and our department’s vision with  my group.  As a leader within the company it is not only my job to share the company vision with my group but to make sure they have a clear vision as to what we can do to help the company be successful.  Ensuring that we are a world class team will help not only our department to succeed but will affect the bottom line of the company.

    Good reminder that I need to schedule a retreat for myself!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I felt the same way! I get caught in the minutiae of the day-to-day operations of my company and consistently forget where I am heading. If I forget to look forward long enough, I end up getting lost. This post was a call to action for me to set aside some time to focus on the vision for my company and related projects. 

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    Thanks Mike. Great post. I’m working through issues like this right now. There’s a huge difference between making reactionary decisions based on fear versus making progressive decisions based on what potential could be.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy


    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Your comment reminds me of the phrase, “Living life on purpose.” You are exactly right.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. Only in recent years have I become aware of how destructive fear can be.

  • Gina Sismilich

    Not only do I have to have a vision – I need God’ help to see what isn’t visible!   l thank you for that reminder.  Also – vision gives us purpose – strategy alone won’t do that.  

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    This is so cool that you wrote about this today. I’ve been working on changing this and focusing on what I want to see happen, not necessarily how I’m going to get there first. Though I need to plan that part out to a certain extent, since I’ve changed my viewpoint, God has been doing big things. 

    One of the big things was to stop saying I wanted to be a writer and actually call myself one. Since doing that, doors have opened and big opportunities have come forward. 

    Thanks for your inspiration. 

    • Rachel Lance

      So glad you were served by today’s post, Sundi Jo.
      The little shift into present tense is a big one for me too.

  • http://tea4kate.com/ Kathryn Barker

    Great post! We’ve used this technique for years…works every time! My Sweet Husband and I actually used “vision” to establish our concept of family and as a parenting tool. So many “how to” strategies are floating around regarding how “family” is created and “how to” raise children, but without a  clear “vision” one could easily become a flip-flopper trying one and then another, leading to confusion and chaos.

    Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish…..

    I know this verse is subject to many interpretations…but it speaks to me about the need for clarity.

    Thanks again for an engaging blog!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thank you for sharing Kathryn. As I read the post today, I started thinking about all of the areas of my life where I didn’t have a clear vision. Family was one of them. Mind sharing what your “vision” is for your family? It would certainly benefit me.

  • Anonymous

    My vision is to help people get a job.  The vehicle to help people is my website and public speaking.  Even if one important concept is revealed to assist someone in acquiring a job, I would be thrilled.  
    In my experience the job search process is changing constantly via social media and the ever changing economy.  Many individuals are behind in changing with the times.
    That is my vision.  Anyone with guidance, advice or capital, please feel free to contact me to help me achieve my vision.  http://www.JobCoachHQ.com

  • http://www.themlmattorney.com/about Kevin Thompson

    This is fantastic, Mike.  The “Why” is always more important than the “How.”  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Fedders-Brouwer/100000210427442 Lisa Fedders Brouwer

    I like that you referenced John Eldredge’s book Desire.  As I read it,  I feel empowered as John encourages the reader to not bury desire but dive into it and “live the life we prize”.  So often we neglect our desires and are just comfortable with what is going on around us.  Desire transforms the heart and a compelling vision is the result.

    I, too, have a vision for my life thanks to my coach at Building Champions.  It is the penning of the strategy that has been the hardest part for me.  But I know that working through the process will be rewarding.  Having a vision with no plan is frustrating!

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    This is just what I needed to Start 2012 the right way, a solid vision. I was going about it backward and asking how. Thanks it was right on time.

  • http://twitter.com/OpHugAHero Operation Hug-A-Hero

    Your post today couldn’t have come at a better time.  Thank you for the tools on how to start this process.  We have a vision at Operation Hug-A-Hero, but I do believe we need to refresh, revive and refocus.  There is no better way than to first turn it over to Him and hear what He envisions through us.  Thank you so much. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Yes turning it over to God is a great way to start! If prayer is not a part of forming our vision then we are starting in the wrong place.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      The name “Operation Hug-A-Hero” provides a GREAT slogan to help cast a vision!  What a huge vision casting tool.  Good luck as you refresh, revive and refocus!

  • http://www.springmemarketing.com/ asenath

    Over and over again, the “how” paralizes me as it does many people. It stops me in my tracks from dreaming big, seeing a huge vision, and when I say paralize, I literally mean atrophy of the work I must at least try and be in action with. I think it is human nature.

    As a BIG Vision kind of person, for myself and my business, coming up with the how seems to have a way to worked itself out when I fell in love with my vision, and turned it over to other amazing, hand selected, creative and capable team to lean on and help me achieve my vision. :)

  • Anonymous

    Michael, for an independent writer/blogger like me, would a vision coincide with how you put together your elevator pitch?  It seems like it’s essentially sharing your vision with someone else.  Your thoughts?

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Hi Paula. Thought I would chime on in this question. I think vision is an integral part of your elevator pitch. Without a clear idea of where you are going, you will never be able to lead any one there.

      • http://www.faithfulchoices.com/ Paula

        Thanks Jason.  I love that you call yourself and accidental techie.  I guess the same could apply to me.  I write, I blog, I learn.  Now I’m becoming a social media expert.  When did that happen?

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          Yep, I didn’t go to “school” to learn how to build websites or use social media…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it’s probably just a question of scope. An elevator pitch is like a vision for a specific project. Does that help?

      • http://www.FaithfulChoices.com/ Paula

        Yes.  If I understand what you’re saying,  a vision could contain portions of an elevator pitch but the elevator pitch doesn’t include the whole vision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    So very important to know and be reminded.  Vision first! My vision is to break the barrier between Business and Ministry, and to train business and ministry leaders that God honors both. 
    One is not better or more needed in the Body of Christ, the Church, or the Marketplace.  The vision has not changed but the “how to” has changed over the years. Thanks for the reminder.. Vision first, last and always will open up the strategy for each season.

    • Jim Martin

      Jane, I really like your last line.  “Vision first, last, and always will open up the strategy for each season.”  I like this.  Putting energy into clarifying the vision can actually help make the strategy clear.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Vision without strategy is day-dreaming.

  • http://www.turningthepage.info/ Barry Pearman

    Thanks for sharing this Michael. 

    I will use the seven steps today to dream. 

    One of my heroes of faith was George Mueller  who saw a need to care for the orphans of Victorian England. His vision was to build orphanages, he didn’t have a strategy, he just believed. 

    Miracle upon miracle of provision came to him. 

    I have a sketchy vision of supporting people in their recovery from Mental Illness through Christian Soul Talk and Spiritual Formation. 

    Today I will go seek some more clarity for my vision

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Sometimes believing is the first step. Even believing the impossible.

  • Carrie :)

    Thank you for this. . . as a church administrator, I’m a little notorious for thinking strategy and not vision (since our Senior Pastor is a great visionary). However, as I look at the administration team (or the actual formation of one), I can see why I’m struggling to find people to join – I really don’t have a vision of what I want the team to be so it’s hard to convey the “why”. 

    This week, I’m headed for a 24 hour solitude retreat and now know what I’m going to be praying and processing with God. :) Thank you for the timing of this!!!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for the comment Carrie. I pray that God speaks to you and gives you great vision for your ministry.

  • http://twitter.com/_ruthiedean Ruthie Dean

    I am going to share this with our Nelson Fiction team! It’s easy to ‘settle in’ to what is realistic–but that doesn’t land NYT bestsellers, etc. Thanks for writing.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Settling in is so easy to do, isn’t it?

  • http://www.mikebechtle.com/ Mike Bechtle

    Michael – I think one of the most refreshing things in life is when God orchestrates the timing of things to exactly meet the needs of people.  Today was one of those, where I actually went to a coffee shop with the purpose of thinking through my direction for the next 10 years.  I’ve been sorting through options and thinking through strategies, but needed “something” to pull it all together.  My focus has been on strategy, not vision.

    Then I came across this post — the exact answer I needed at the exact time.  So in the past hour, I’ve just crafted a draft of a vision statement based on your input.

    I feel like the puzzle is finally coming together.  I’ve been focusing on the pieces, and you just reminded me to focus on the picture on the box.

    Thanks.  Just know that God used you this morning.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Awesome, Mike.

    • Rachel Lance

      That is refreshing, Mike, so glad for your breakthrough!
      Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.transformingleader.org/ Wayne Hedlund

    This is a great reminder. It’s so easy to get stuck in ‘do’ mode without fully clarifying the vision. I read a book a couple years back that has made a big difference in strategic planning for me. It has 5 simple steps and vision definitely comes before the strategy. For anyone interested, it’s called ‘Being Strategic’ by Erika Andersen and the 5 steps are:

    1. Define the Challenge (What problem are you trying to address?)
    2. Clarify ‘What Is?’ (What resources – SWOT – do you have available?)
    3. Envision ‘What’s the Hope?’ (VISION)
    4. Face ‘What’s in the Way?’ (What are the barriers for success?)
    5. Determine ‘What’s the Path?’ (Strategy)

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      “What’s the Hope?” – that’s a great vision question!

  • Heather Goodwill

    Thank you so much for the post! I have often times thought about the strategy before the vision simply because applying a strategy gives the impression that I am doing something! Boy, was I wrong! Thank you! 

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Strategy can give us the illusion we are in control. It feels good.

      • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

        So true, Jeremy.   The control feels good … until we realize that we accomplished all of our goals and don’t have anything meaningful to show for it.  

  • Adam Pearson

    Michael, thank you for this post. Incredibly timely as I mull over the opportunity take on a turnaround opportunity. Like you said, vision is the what, strategy is the how, purpose is the why.

  • Debbie McGoldrick


    Neighborhood Bible Study 2 GO


    VISION:  Women loving and gathering neighbors to study
    the Bible in every community around the world.


    MISSION:  To encourage and equip women everywhere to begin
    Neighborhood Bible Studies.

    Your blog was timely – encouraged me to keep on keeping on with the vision God has placed on my heart that is much bigger and wider than I can put my mind around. By FAITH I am listening intently, following intentionally without delay, discussion or doubt whatever He leads me/our team of ordinary women to do as we put together NBS2go website and beyond.

    Debbie McGoldrick – Atlanta, GA


  • Brandon Jones

    This is a great post! I really like how you explain the importance of having a clear vision. So many people in management forget the importance of where they are going because thy bogged down by how they are moving forward. They focus solely on the how when the what is far more important. Thanks! Brandon Jones

    • Jim Martin

      Brandon, you describe well the reality of so many people.  They get “bogged down by how they are moving forward.”  You are right.  They get overly focused on the how and forget the what.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    It really does.  Thanks for stimulating my thinking!

  • Edwina Cowgill

    Thanks for a great and, for me, a timely post. I’ve been indecisive over a career decision for weeks and my husband keeps saying “you have to decide what you want.” Your post has made me realize that I need to cast a new vision. Blessings!

    • Jim Martin

      Edwina, I like this line from your husband: “you have to decide what you want.”  That line really does point to the necessity of vision.

  • Gatheringofwaters

    Today i was sooo depressed..I so needed to read this… I was about to give up …. I know now was lead to you to stand up ..dust myself off and get back to where the Creator has shown me I could go…through a vision.

    • Jim Martin

      Gatheringofwaters, so glad Michael’s post was helpful and encouraging to you today.

  • Laura Roderick

    Your summation of the “What” being more important than the “how” is right on- In retrospect, I look back at what I’ve acocmplished in my life and wonder “how did I do all that?” with the only true answer being: I had a vision, and let my passion for manifesting taht vision be my sightless guild- the captain in the fog, using the compass of faith to safely take me to the deep harbor of success.
    ~Laura Roderick

  • http://www.leadtoimpact.com/ Bernard Haynes

    Michael this was an excellent post. I have studied, written and taught about vision the last couple of years. I am a firm believer that the vision (what) comes first and the strategy (how) comes next. If you don’t have the strategy the vision will never come to past. I call it working your plan. I actually developed a plan I call the 5 elements of a powerful vision. I wrote an article at http://www.leadtoimpact.com/?p=933#more-933 about these 5 elements.  Your article helped with my position on vision. Thanks

    • Jim Martin

      Bernard, you are right.  This was an excellent post.  I like the way you express this: “…the vision (what) comes first and the strategy (how) comes next.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing the link, Bernard. I will check it out.

      • http://www.leadtoimpact.com/ Bernard Haynes

        Michael have you had time to check out the link? If you have, what did you think. I am working on a new one that was inspired from your article titled, “Do you have sight or vision?’ From all the comments that you have received vision is a huge topic.

        Bernard Haynes

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Checked out your post and it’s really great.
      Like I said on your site, I love that your plan begins with God and ends with hustle!

  • http://www.DrAngelaBisignano.com/ Angela Bisignano

    Great post Mike!

  • http://www.producewithpassion.com Dan McCoy

    You have NO idea how timely this was or how much God just used you to solidify his plan in my life.   You see my company is about to launch a huge suite of tolls and services aimed at eliminating distraction in ministry and I have been busy executing on my 2012 vision when out of the blue I get a call from a current client with an addition through a joint venture that will be this suite stellar!   It all started when I woke up and read this.  Dear God, not sure what you have in store but as I posted on facebook today…   Vuja De: the distinct feeling that something like this has never happened before.  Thanks Michael. 

    -Dan (Lead… Laugh… Live.)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the vuja de comment!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      I am totally going to use the Vuje-De line in the future! Great stuff! I hope the launch goes well!

  • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

    Really terrific Michael! What is my vision? Well, (he sheepishly responds), I didn’t really have one, until know. I was merely “doing stuff”. So I sat down as you suggested (hard to do at a moments notice but I did not want to put it off for one more second), I banged out a rough draft. I’ll go back ,and fine tune it, shape it, and keep improving it, but, as a first pass, boy what a difference it made just in the way I started considering WHAT I was doing, what I should NOT do, and even HOW I spent the valuable minutes and hours in my day. So what is my vision? 

    I am a respected,
    best-selling, widely followed and sought after author, speaker, coach and blogger on
    Leadership, Personal Development, Ethics, and Team Building.  

    I have a bit more detail underneath this, but that’s the basic vision. Thanks for this post. You have a real knack for sharing just what I need, just in time!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      What a great start, Enrique! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great job, Enrique. I love it. I can’t wait to hear how it comes to pass!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    My vision is to have my internet business take off to the point where it supports our family. This way we aren’t locationed based and can go and help out missionaries from our church that are in Kenya, where most of my family is. I could perosnally give them the Gospel!
    We would also like to settle in Hawaii and start a ministry counseling couples through some of the issues we have overcome!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Kimanzi, thanks for sharing your vision.  I hope I’m not offending you by this, but it seems that your internet business vision is really a strategy.  It seems that your vision starts with helping missionaries and the people of Kenya.   What a great cause!  It seems that while the internet business could have a vision of its own, it appears to be more a way to make the Kenya vision happen.

      That’s also a great vision for counseling couples through issues that you have overcome.  Helping others from your own experiences brings purpose to your own trials!  

      You obviously have great plans!  I hope you can find the time to really hash out the details of your ultimate vision using Michael’s steps above.   I also hope you will share it here when you do!

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        No, I’m not offended, I’m a brutally honest person, so I appreciate the same. You do make some very good points, thank you. I will keep you up to date on our progress. We actually have started a site to chronicle this journey: excitingfamilyjourney.com

        • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

          I took a peek at the site and this looks really exciting! I love that you are leading a great story, and journey, with your family! You are to be commended! Many prayers!

          • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

            Hey barry, thank you for the kind words. It’s hard to read great blogs like this one, Seth Godin,Dan Miller and many more and not take action. Life is too short to watch other people move forward while we’re still stuck in the same place!

        • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

          Very cool, Kimanzi. Best wishes on the project!

          • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

            Thanks so much John!

  • http://jenniferdawnmclucas.com Jennifer Dawn McLucas

    I really needed this today. Really. I can see now that I have applied strategy after strategy to change my circumstances but have somehow failed to really identify where I am going. Thank you so much for including the 7 recommended steps, without them I’m not sure I’d know where to begin identifying the change that needs to take place.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Jennifer, you are not alone.  Most of us have chased strategy before vision with less-than-desirable results.  Good luck as you make this positive change!

  • Sven

    Hi there
    What so you think about visions in christian assemblys? Or is this just a business thing?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I believe EVERY organization needs a vision, whether it is a business, a church, a non-profit organization, or even a family.

  • Kay

    My dream is to become a successful published author.  Although I have the majority of my book written and have studied technique in college and through courses and websites, I find that life always gets in the way of that quiet, creative place I used to know so well.  I can’t stop life from distracting me, but I find I have a hard time just sitting down to finish editing anymore.  I love your inspirational msgs, and I am going to just believe from now on and not try to figure out the “how” so much, knowing that if I have faith, creativity will come back to me when it needs too.  Thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/CunninghamOrtiz Stephanie Ortiz

      Hi Kay, I’m right there with you on every single point that you made (okay I studied through writing centers, not in college) so I’m a “little” older than you are:)  But it’s conforting for me to hear that I’m not alone in my vision, and neither are you…

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        Well said.


    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Thanks for sharing your heart here.  I think all of us go through those seasons that you are speaking of, and you have a good attitude about it—as you look ahead. Keep up the great work, Kay.

      • Jim Martin

        Barry, you make a good point here.  I also think that all of us go through similar seasons.  It is a challenge not to let such a season color the way we see all of life.  An attitude (such as the one Kay reflects) really does help.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Kay, the one advice repeated by successful authors is write. I just read that writing nugget again today at Write-to-Done http://writetodone.com/2012/01/23/writing-secrets-of-prolific-authors/ . I have a blog post–“When Does Inspiration Come?” http://tnealtarver.com/2011/11/23/when-does-inspiration-come/ –that addresses the truth about inspiration. Keep writing and God bless.

  • http://www.setongod.com/ Joshua OneNine

    I love it when I have enough time to get alone with God. They are always fulfilling times of great pray and worship. Next time though, I should make a new vision for my life and my blog.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Sounds like a great plan. Go for it!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Time alone seems to be the key to developing a clearer vision, that listening-to-God time. A day apart seems to be the practical step I need to take. God bless you as you spend time with Him as well.

      • http://www.setongod.com/ Joshua OneNine

        Thank you, and God bless you!

  • Gentsent

    To Bring Christian leaders from third world Nations for training and then send them back to train others.

  • http://viewsfromtheouthouse.blogspot.com/ Mark S. R. Peterson

    Michael, what an inspiring post.  It boils down to knowing where the ship is going, and then planning how to do it.  If one doesn’t know where they want to end up, how do you know when you’ve made it?
    God bless!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      I immediately thought of the ship illustration as well. Good stuff!

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        How about a train terminal analogy? If you know where you’re going (vision), you know which train to catch (how to get there). :-D

  • http://www.inhisseason.com Teresita Glasgow

    I enjoyed this post especially now because “vision” is something I’ve been focusing on recently. The 7 recommendations will be very helpful. Thanks.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I’d be interested to hear how the recommendations work for you. Please share your experience after working with them awhile.

      • http://www.inhisseason.com Teresita Glasgow

        Hi Joe! I’ll let you know how it works out. I’m already doing this sometimes but I know that I need to be more consistent.

      • http://www.inhisseason.com Teresita Glasgow

        Joe, I am already doing some of this sometimes… but I know that I need to be more consistent! I’ll let you know the outcome as I become more consistent. I have not commited to reading my vision daily that will be a new experience.  

  • http://thesingingnurse.com/ TheSingingNurse, Dawn

    Thanks, I needed that, just wrote mine up.

  • http://twitter.com/calinvalean Calin

    This is the most appreciated article from my point of view. We need more like these and also a diving into details of the next steps you took, translated into operational plans on a day by day basis!

  • http://twitter.com/dennisbrooke Dennis Brooke

    When I was an Air Force officer in Germany during the waning days of the Cold War I used this process to turn a small airfield branch at Sembach AB into the top rated branch on Continental Europe. The great thing about efforts like this is that not only does it make the organization better but raised the level of the people in the group. At the end of my tenure there most of the individual awards for the career field for USAFE (USAF in Europe) were going to the people in my group and they’ve gone on to be successful in other areas.
    Agree that the visioning process begins with the leader. He/She then needs to shape it with input and buyin from the team to make it work.

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  • Ercan Ozbelli

    Thanks for this helpful article.
    it is understandable,simple and  actionable not only for business lifes but also for our personal lifes.
    try to determine strategies without vision could be wrong because if you and the people around you are too realistic it wouldnt be hard to give in.
    Vision is a bridge between reality and imagination.And we all need to clarify it instead of ignore it

  • Rover

    You have given me a gift today. I recently inherited a publishing role similar to yours and was viewing my challenge as a problem. You viewed your challenge as an opportunity. I’m properly convicted and inspired! 

    Thank you!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Congratulations on the new role. What an honor! May you have great success and fulfillment!

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I just finished reading Andy Stanley’s book When Work and Family Collide. In it he writes about how we need to stop cheating our family and devoting so much time to our work. One thing he writes about is having a discussion with your spouse about what needs to change. What will the situation look when it is perfect? He says not to worry about the “how” question but just asking “what?” Only after we come to a conclusion about what it will look like do we start figuring out the how. One of his reasons for doing it this way is to let God work. Sometimes we cannot know how to get there but God has a plan. Great book by the way.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Brandon, thanks for sharing this information. What you have to say coupled with Mike’s post helps me apply the information in a practical way. I can see my wife and me talking through some important issues dealing with our future (which sounds more ominous than it is) without getting stuck on the specific how-do-we-get-there questions. Good stuff.

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        Thanks! I was reading the book and then I read the post and made the connection. It was a light going off in my head. I love when I am able to see practical ways to apply this to my life and I have been very excited about putting all this information to good use.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Excellent post Michael!

    My vision is to two fold.  My personal vision is to develop myself into the man, husband, father I know I can be with God’s help.  Your Life Plan helped me define this.

    My vision for ministry is to build a vibrant, dynamic ministry to teens that equips them to walk with Christ after they leave our ministry and our town, which most do since we have no college here.

    I’ve taken this vision and developed a comprehensive strategy around it, breaking it into step by step, manageable goals, measurable and visible.

    Thanks for continuing to invest in me!

  • http://www.valuesdrivenresults.com/ Curt Fowler

    Great post.  Don’t forget that purpose and core values must come before vision!  

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    “… you have to get clear on what you want.” This sounds like a conversation with my wife, that moment when she asks what I want and I’m stuck. What do I want? This reminds me of another of your post statements. “When I rediscovered my why, I found my way.” Motivation, identity, and vision all seem linked. When I’m clear about who I am, what I want, and where I’m going, I find it easier to move forward. I can filter my professional desire, to be an author, through those three areas. When I do, I narrow my focus and stick closer to the path I need to follow. Thank you for offering a basic map to find the desired path.

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  • Anonymous

    I often make the mistake of tackling strategy before solidifying my vision. I think the problem has been with my inability to follow your advice at the end of the post. Sometimes I build up a wonderful vision but then lose sight of it mid-way, which inevitably leads to failure. Thanks for this 

  • Anonymous

    Is this a spiritual vision or man made vision / strategy?because if the vision has come from above,i am telling you the truth how the strategy will come is not even your problem and i am not denying the above mentioned vision/strategy,I only prefer asking the one above for vision and strategy in the spiritual ram so that whatever the spiritual reveals so I shall in the physical reality ram and all things can be done for them that believe and so it shall be.

  • Neil

    Michael – I agree with you 110%! If you look at any great visionaries they stopped listening to all the critics long before they left the dock. You can’t get to where you are going unless you set the course, all the other issues will surface in time, that is when you deal with the how.

  • http://www.ValenciaRay.com Valencia Ray M.D.

    I agree that vision, clarity is critical.  Most people are not taking this first step so they are “busy doing” but not being productive really because they have foggy vision.  They really are not inspired so of course, they have to really push themselves and use “will power”.  This is not working well anymore and accounts for much of the stress, overwhelm and burnout that is witnessed all around us.  Vision is truly important as the first step to strategy.

  • duyana Bat

    Thanks a lot!

  • duyana Bat

    I agreed that VISION is important . I like    your blog and I ‘m translating your book LIFE  PLAN  into

    I wish you all success!

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.broughton Larry Broughton

    Another great article, Michael.  A great reminder found in Proverbs 29:18…”Where there is no vision, the people perish”

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That has become one of my favorite verses lately.

  • http://thesingingnurse.com/ Ms. Dawn, TheSingingNurse

    Thanks, I needed that, after reading your post I went and wrote up my vision. Does make it feel clearer. Dawn

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  • JB

    This is a timely reminder of remaining committed to the vision.  Thank you.  JB

  • Anonymous

    thanks so much for sharing this! After reading your post, I was inspire and motivated to write my own vision statement. Even posted a link to this on my blog! Thanks! Blessings. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That is awesome Sunny! It will be a great rudder for your life as long as refer to it.

  • Sudhakar kota

    vision is to develop quality oriented human resource capable of delivering quality to the society in whatever they do.

  • http://www.buildingsolutionscoordinatoars.com/ Susan U Stewart

    This principle should be applied to Washington; a gov’t in decline & denial, strategizing only how to keep their jobs, rather than do their jobs by envisioning a debt free healthy and wealthy America in 5-10 years. 

  • Vsbrowning

    This morning, I had an interesting coaching call with a client. We spent significant time discussing the power of vision in the process of creating the best life imaginable. Envisioning a better future requires one accept responsibility for the life he/she has now. This responsibility represents the freedom to choose one’s response to the current situation and to change or modify that reality. While vision is the starting point, responsible action is the key to brining that vision to life.

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  • Bob Whitworth

    This is great stuff you’re giving and a wonderful reminder to me. My vision was clear and
    the plan did develop during the year I spent in Vietnam. As you know there is no greater commander than Jesus Christ. No military person or anyone else accomplished what he planned and completed for His glory.
    He was with me as I struggled through being a combat infantry soldier. This book is set
    to come out shortly, for everyone to read about His protection during trying times.
    His strengthening my visions was essential. I know your time is precious however you
    will like my my web site at http://www.throughmyeyesthebook.com
    Keeping my vision is what took me to this place and to the complete accomplishment of this
    goal. Thank you for giving us your insight……Bob Whitworth

  • http://DesignedToCreate.com/ Kelley

    The 7 recommendations at the bottom are so practical and necessary! I have been taking a break from the computer for my first draft of anything, and have picked up a pen and journal instead. The difference is astounding, especially when I sit in an environment that is inspirational. There is something so liberating about scratching down thoughts and drawing arrows and doodles that keeps our vision fresh.

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  • Clint Byars

    This is a great example of Proverbs 16:9 “a man’s heart determines his way and God gives him the steps”. Thanks for your posts Michael, I always find something each week that helps my productivity.

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  • http://twitter.com/RyanSearch Dan Ryan

    While I understand your interest with vision, I would counter that much of your vision was really strategy.
    Here are some examples:

    We have ten “franchise authors” whose new books sell at least 100,000 copies in the first 12 months.
    We have ten “emerging authors” whose new books sell at least 50,000 copies in the first 12 months.
    In my view these statements are as much about strategy as they are about vision.  

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1083814344 Isaac Fineman

    “We cannot attain to a vision, we must live in the inspiration of it until it accomplishes itself. ” -Oswald Chambers

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  • Tim Miller

    Wow!!  Compeling stuff.  I have a meting planed with my new team in a week and a day off scheduled to catch God’s vision for our miniisrty Monday.  These thoughts could not have come at a better time.  Just what I needed to focus my day away.
    Thank you.

  • http://www.redheadedstepchildbooks.com/ Serenity J. Banks

    Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that really strike home for me. The suggestion to write our visions in present tense… what affirmation that brings. To view what we are to do as though we have already done it? Outstanding. I’ve come to sense a difference in those who believe in God and those who believe in God’s plan. Those who already trust in the outcome are much more ready to act. Thank you for an inspiring post, Michael.

  • Young Yoon

    Thank you Michael. I just wanted to say “Thank you!”

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    I can’t begin to tell you how badly I needed to read this. I’m in a place in my life/career where I’m struggling with my current reality and frustrated by the how. Apparently, I’ve been distracted by the wrong thing. Thank you for the practical encouragement to define and focus on the what while trusting God to provide.

    God bless.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Nadine Stevens

    Hi there, 

    Thanks for sharing this with us. We all need a vision.  But vision alone is not enough.  We need to act on it.  Also if we know we can have it by existing means available, it’s not really a vision, it’s only a just a to-do list. A real vision comes from something that did not exist before=D.



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  • http://johnweirick.com/ John Weirick

    I’ve also been thinking about vision recently. It seems that best understanding  of one’s vision is through the process of questions: http://wp.me/p1UEaY-js

    Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  • http://manifestvisionsolutions.com/ Ellen

    I absolutely agree with you on vision being critical.  Any organization attempting major change needs direction and guardrails in order for people to internalize the “why” to change and understand “what it takes” so they can make the rights choices on the journey.  See our opinion: 

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  • http://www.anordinarymom.com/ ali @ an ordinary mom

    I’ve been trying to craft, along with my husband, a family vision statement, and for me personally, a mothering vision statement, and reading this today has breathed new life into what I fully expect to be a very rewarding process and experience!

    It was a blessing to read this today!

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  • Md. Yunus Ali Dulal

    I want to know , what is Feature of Vision ?

  • Robreke

    Is it okay to have a few visions?  For personal goals and business goals?  Or will that dilute their effectiveness?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. I wouldn’t go crazy, but a few are fine.

  • Daniel

    Making decisions that lead to put the light into your vision. If your vision is strong enough, your mind is set to choose right in your decision-making process. It is just easier then to make a decision leading to accomplish your dreams. And by this accomplishment I mean getting closer and closer to fulfil your big vision in life. Learn more about having a vision at http://www.empowernetwork.com/kefczan/blog/it-is-great-to-have-a-vision-and-make-right-decisions/?id=kefczan

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  • Susan Kuhn

    Thank you so much for the book recommendation. I am reading it now. It is balm for my soul, which has been much in hiding since making some major desire-driven decisions that blew up my life (or so I told myself). The knowing tone truly speaks to me. THANK YOU.