Why Vision Matters Now

I originally wrote the following article as part of What Matters Now, a free eBook that Seth Godin created and compiled a few years ago. However, I think it may be more relevant now than ever. What do you think? Leave me a comment at the end of this post.

Vision is the lifeblood of any organization. It is what keeps it moving forward. It provides meaning to the day-to-day challenges and setbacks that make up the rumble and tumble of real life.

Window Cleaner Using a Squeegee to Wash a Window - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/BrianAJackson, Image #19515449

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/BrianAJackson

In a down economy—particularly one that has lasted so long—things get very tactical. Most are just trying to survive. What worked yesterday does not necessarily work today. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. Decisions become pragmatic.

But after a while this wears on people. They don’t know why their efforts matter. They cannot connect their actions to a larger story. Their work becomes a matter of just going through the motions, living from weekend to weekend, paycheck to paycheck.

This is where great leadership makes all the difference. Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future. It comes down to pointing the way and saying, “C’mon. We can do this!”

When times are tough, vision is the first casualty. Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing we must recover.

Question: How important do you think vision is as we move through the rest of this year? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    I remember reading an interview with Howard Schultz in the Harvard Business Review about restoring Starbucks. One thing he said was this: “We are retraining our people because we have forgotten what we stand for…”. That’s the importance of vision. It is good that we remind ourselves of that often as we move through the rest of the year.

    Here’s the link to the interview: http://hbr.org/2010/07/the-hbr-interview-we-had-to-own-the-mistakes/ar/1

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

       Killer line from Howard, Joe!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Great example, Joe.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is a great quote. I can see using that in the future. Thanks, Joe.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Great quote— he talks a lot about vision in —”Pour Your Heart Into It.”

  • http://www.wadeoradio.com DJ Wade-O

    I spoke with a friend last night for an hour. He’s working a job that he hates and thinks his work doesn’t matter. When I showed him Collossians Chapter 3 and how our work should be done as if it’s done for the Lord directly, his perspective changed. He now Understood why his work mattered. He had vision.

    Great article Michael, as always you articulated this beautifully.

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

       DJ, that’s great that you helped your friend walk through his troubles!

    • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

      “Quitter” by Jon Acuff has some incredible perspectives on viewing the value of your work. It gave me a vision for what I learn from jobs long since gone.

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

    I actually wrote a blog post about this a couple of months ago. http://www.jmlalonde.com/are-you-about-to-perish/

    As you can see, I think a vision is vitally important. As it says in Proverbs, Without vision the people perish. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Without vision the family, the business, the marriage, the children, the friendship, the ministry … perish. It’s critical in every aspect. Thanks for sharing your post, Joe.

  • Drew Tewell

    Just this morning I revisited my vision to write a NY Times best seller. Your book, platform, and recently meeting Chris Guillebeau inspired me as I am starting to post regularly on my blog. Revisiting my vision frequently helps keep it in front of me and helps me stay focused. Thanks for all the great content!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’ll tell you a secret about this kind of vision, Drew. On December 2011, I wrote out my top ten goals for 2012. The very first one was this (copy and pasted from Evernote): “Get Platform on the New York Times bestsellers list by May 30, 2012.” Amazingly, it happened on that very day.

      Not everything I write down comes to pass in this kind of dramatic way. But I can tell you that something was set it motion when I expressed my intention.
      Just thought you might be inspired by that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kay.harms Kay Winton Harms

         I’m inspired!

      • Drew Tewell

        Thanks! I appreciate it. More fuel for the fire.

      • Peter Brookshaw

        Awesome! God inspired writing hey? I’ll need to get a copy!

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      Drew – same for me! I have read Platform twice now and it has reignited that vision within me.

  • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

    Vision… and with it courage! As leaders, we have to instill courage in the people that we influence… we all need courage to take the next step.

    Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it all others depend. – Winston Churchill

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Love W.C. Such wisdom!

  • Chad Fearnow

    Like Michael said, vision is everything. People are wired to work towards something they feel is significant and meaningful. A meaningful vision can turn even the most mundane tasks into something exciting. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509376669 Patrick Manyanza


    I think it’s very easy to lose of our vision when we allow
    ourselves to become victims of our present sight. Even after being sold as
    slave, taken to Egypt and thrown into prison, Joseph from the Bible never lost
    his vision and in the end, what a blessing he was. I think Helen Keller said it
    best when asked, “What is the greatest tragedy in life other than being blind?”

    She replied, “Having eyes to see, but no vision!!”

    Thanks for your awesome article Michael. I love your podcast
    and what a blessing to be receiving this great knowledge all the way from
    Tanzania where I live.

    • Rachel Lance

      Thanks for sharing, Patrick. Such great thoughts! So glad the blog is touching your life all the way to Tanzania – isn’t technology wonderful?

      • Patrick Manyanza


        Thanks Rachel and thank God for technology, what a blessing it
        is to be able to connect with great people such as yourself.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words and your encouragement, Patrick.

  • http://www.endgamebusiness.com/blog Steve Borek

    Vision. It’s an interesting word. It’s all about seeing something that cannot be seen. 

    Before vision, the leader must find their own voice. Many struggle to show their authentic self. Then they wonder why their vision isn’t clear or believable. Your followers need to know you believe in where you’re taking them before they hop on the train.

  • Stephen Scoggins

    Looking forward to great insight my friends Chris Locuto and Chris Mefford from the Davy Ramsey Entreleader team , thank you for what you are doing God Bless

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Working towards a vision is of the utmost importance.  You have to hold out and hold up what you are toiling for.  It’s too easy to lose sight of the goal while in the midst of a slow economy.  People need reminders to give them the strength to continue on to see land on the horizon after being out at sea.

  • Kim Glenn

     I think having a vision is extremely important.  As a stay-at-home mom, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks of caring for 4 little ones.  After more than 10 years of doing this, I’ve been thinking that maybe I was meant for something “more”.  But completing your life plan has caused me to ‘come up for air’ and to really take an honest look at my life and the lives of those I’m leading.  Now I’m able to see what huge significance this role of parenting has – not only on the lives of our children, but on everyone we come into contact with as well.  Thank you for your posts!

    • Rachel Lance

      Great thoughts, Kim. I’m glad you worked your way to clarity. Sometimes I feel incredibly torn between the ministry I feel called to and being a stay at home mom. Keeping a clear vision is so important to bringing our best work to whatever it is we’re tasked with.

  • http://www.buildingwhatmatters.com/ Barry Smith

    Clearly our vision is crucial to achieving desired results.  John Maxwell’s Law of Navigation says that anyone can steer the ship but it takes a leader to chart the course.  I think our vision is what is needed to chart our course.  We have to clearly know our destination if we expect to take the right path to get there.  Otherwise we are simply adrift.  I intend to be very strategic and intentional for the remainder of the year to move toward the vision of who I want to be.  Thanks for another great post!

    • http://www.mirandaochocki.com/ Miranda Ochocki

      I thought about this Law as well – and completely agree with you Barry. It’s so easy to get off track even if we do have vision, so we need a plan in place that can provide guidance day by day. Something written, that can be shared with others, and can be a constant reminder of where we are going.

  • Don Key

    When we remind ourselves that God is still on the throne , that He is very active and involved; that He is in control, that our lives are lived out for Him and through Him, the difficulties of life become more tolerable. Our vision is to please Him in all we do.

  • http://twitter.com/colbycm LeadHisWay

    “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I work in an area where I have many lower-wage hourly workers. Vision is paramount in keeping them motivated. We have to see the why. Without the why, it’s too easy to question, too easy to not do something, and too easy to give up. We cast our vision daily, and even lead our meetings around the vision, breaking it into parts as agenda items.

    We will constantly focus on the vision. Is that redundant?

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      When it comes to vision, I don’t think it’s possible to be redundant or overstated! We must always be reminded what is before us. Thanks for the insight.

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

    “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in
    the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity:
    but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream
    with open eyes to make it possible.” ~ T.E. Lawrence

    Be dangerous…

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

      I love that one John. I can’t imagine being dangerous. I need to start imagining… and dreaming by day.

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

      You know, John, that feeling when you read something that moves you…and then 5 minutes later you read something similar, but at a completely different source, and you realize God may be nudging.  I just read this article about being dangerous. I am nudged.


    • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

      Wow, that’s a great quote John. Thanks for sharing it! I will be dangerous today.:)

    • Bonnie Clark

      I love that quote too.  Here is another of my favorites:

      “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost…now put foundations under them.”
      – Henry David Thoreau

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      WOW. Great quote. I’m borrowing. :) 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Love that quote, John! Amazing. I am creating a mini-post from that.

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      Powerful quote! Thank you for sharing – may we all live more dangerously !

  • matthew harkness

    Michael, Great comments on the importance of vision and leadership.   I am reminded daily leadership makes all the difference.  Our patients constantly comment on “what are great team you have”, “it’s so nice here and comfortable”,  “where did you find such great employees”.  I have been reading your new book “Platform” and have been very inspired about expanding my platform.   Thanks for making a difference in our organizations life!

    Grateful…..Matt Harkness alliedpt.com  

  • http://actuallykatie.com/ Katie McAleece

    Vision changes everything! Proverbs 29:18… someone needs a vision or everyone falls apart. Remarkable how that works.

    Great post, and I always appreciate the straight-forward, to-the-point way that you deliver information to the reader. Thank you!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree, Katie. I appreciate the clarity and focus. Helps me apply it immediately.

  • Bigvision121

     I work in the substance abuse and mental health field.  If we did a survey I would guess that less than 10% of employees could describe our vision or mission statement.  At the same time, there is a major push to make sure we bill insurances correctly and meet our contractual guidelines with agencies (DCF workers, probation officers, other court systems) that refer people to us.  It leaves staff feeling discouraged and weary.  Having a new leadership position I’m hoping to rewrite our mission statement soon and make our vision commonly known to improve morale and remind our staff that the work we do is helping to save lives and even give people hope and life again.  Its a great work, but easy to lose sight of in the day to day.  I think making our vision prominent to both our staff and the people we serve would give everyone a good morale boost. 

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

    Have you ever read Me, Myself & Bob – by Phil Vischer? (I just checked my copy and it was published by TN!) I loved his story because he talks about having vision and being a visionary…but that the key is not OUR vision, but what is in God’s heart and mind. “For I know the plans I have for you…” (I being the Lord.)    We are to being doing the good work God prepared in advance for us to do.

    I know you know this, because you are not shy about your faith. But I think it’s important to remember that we include God. Many are the plans of a man, but God’s purpose prevails.  Phil Vischer, through his failures, taught some great lessons in his book. I’m glad you all published it, and recommend it to all the visionaries out there!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Absolutely. Great reminder, Kelly. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I agree, Kelly. I wrote a post on this a while back: “Don’t Leave God Out of Your Plans.”

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

        Thanks for sharing that post. I loved it!

  • http://www.newyouinspired.com/ Newyouinspired

    I am still driving toward my vision for my ministry and business, my passion. It has changed a little to adapt to the current economy but it has still kept the bigger picture and the end result. I just have to be a little more creative in my approach to get it done. 

  • http://twitter.com/RonAlvesteffer Ron Alvesteffer

    SEI’s Vision is to “work with our employees to help them achieve their personal, professional and financial goals”.  This Vision never changes and has been the driving force behind 15 years of double digit growth with a 98% customer retention rate!

  • annepeterson

    Vision is foremost.Without vision, Peter would have never gotten out of the boat. 

    I am trying to clarify my vision, removing anything that might dim it.  

  • Jplynch04

    I think this topic and word is so very critical in all facets of our lives.  Now that you have finished writing your best seller and have nothing left to do….would you continue to develop this topic?  Vision seemingly means something different to different people, but I think there are probably key tenants to a vision and key attributes to those who effectively communicate vision.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I actually would like to develop this some more. Thanks.

  • http://keithbranson.com/ Keith Edwin Branson

    Vision is essential. It must be bi-focal. Look up and out over the horizon. Look down to see the next step. Repeat often.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      That’s a fun way to describe it.

  • http://longingsend.com/ Michael Kimball

    I agree, Michael. A key aspect of leadership is in holding forth the “why” behind all the effort of an organization.  A vision that engages minds and captures the imagination and emotions strengthens the energy of everyone involved, magnifying the collective impact beyond the sum of its parts.

  • Jimfwilliams

    Hi Michael,
    Love this post. Vision helps lift our eyes from the monotonous tasks at hand to the mission that lies before us. Withou it we give up and lose purpose.

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    I love this, Michael. The people who read this blog are entrepreneurs and leaders at some level. I believe even the stay-at-home moms, who are part of this community, are entrepreneurs at heart.  And in this current economy, even in this world-wide economy, it’s the entrepreneurs  and the creative leaders who are going to stand out and really shift the “inevitable”  outcomes— not big government and not big business. 

    This is our time. Our season. And it starts with a vision, is fueled by courage, and sustained by hard work. 

    When people create a compelling vision and share it with others it spreads. It can change a family, a company, a town and even a nation. I for one am excited to see what we’re capable of in the years ahead. Big things are going to come out of these challenging times. Believe it. We cannot loose heart.

    People are hungry for hope and want to know they matter.

    Above you said, “It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters.” So true. And like you said in yesterday’s podcast , “People loose their way when they’ve lost their why.” Let’s lead by keeping others connected to the “why” and then showing them they matter in the “what”.

    Each of us is a leader—if nowhere else, in our families—but in much bigger arenas, too. 

    Imagine …

    What’s your vision? 

    What would you do if you were brave?

    • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

      Thank you for your comment Gail. It hit me in more ways than one. (I LOVE that you commented on your husband’s blog. That totally rocks. Maybe you do it all the time, but this is the first time I’ve waded into the comments. Anyway: it taught me something. Thanks.) 

      “This is our time. Our season. And it starts with a vision, is fueled by courage, and sustained by hard work. ”  YES.  What would I do if I were brave? What a fantastic question. I’ll be thinking about that today. 

      • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

        What would you do if you were brave? That is one of my all-time favorite questions. I first heard it from my oldest daughter, Megan … to her sister.

    • Melody DuBois

      Gail, I also love it that you commented on Michael’s blog. (Seeing spouses who are also friends and companions is such a blessing to everyone around them!)

      And I was struck by the same line from Michael’s blog post, about “reminding people what we are trying to build and why it matters”. I saw this at play recently, in our organization. After many months of focusing on internal change, a strong need emerged for revisiting the big “why” — “re-establishing the horizon”, so to speak.

      I confess I haven’t listened to the podcast yet… but that line “People lose their way when they’ve lost their why”… wow. Guess I know what is now on my summer listening list!

      • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

        Thanks, Melody.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.livermore Rebecca Haley Livermore

       You make some great points here, Gail. It’s definitely important for people to have vision, be brave, etc.

      it seems the hardest time to do that is when people are in survival mode, whether that be due to financial reasons such as unemployment or other crises. In these times it seems that people just exist rather than thrive, and it can be very difficult to see beyond the present crisis.

      However, even then, a vision can give hope that there is a good future ahead if they only persevere.

      • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

        Exactly. When people are in survival mode it ‘s the most important! What’s the alternative? That’s why being brave is so crucial. Thanks Rebecca.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind and generous comment, Gail. I love your spirit! (And I love you!)

  • http://twitter.com/chadro12 Chad Miller

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com/ Dennis

    Your timing with this post is perfect. Recently I was elected PTO president for next school year. Recently we have seen a drop in support for PTO activities. I think this is in part due to the economy but also to a feeling of burnout among parents.  In preparing for the transition and taking over from the current president I have been looking for a vision to rally our parents. Your post serves as a reminder of how important setting a solid vision is to the success of our PTO in serving next school year.

  • http://twitter.com/chadro12 Chad Miller

    You must focus on your vision daily until it comes into clear view. No matter the obstacles, and there will  be many, a laser beam focus is critical to ensure vision does not become the first casualty.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      You’re right, Chad. I usually have to adopt a one-sentence motto or reminder of the vision, and/or I have to write it down on a note card and put it in a place of prominence. I am easily distracted by tasks, obstacles and exhaustion.

  • helloheady

    “They cannot connect their actions to a larger story.” This is so key. I think we could do better at this at the company I work for ie continue to cast vision in a way that our team can be mindful how the work connects to the larger story.

    What are some simple ways these can be applied to our staff meetings?

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

    Great inspiration on vision. I realized a few years ago the importance of vision. I defined vision as a clear mental
    picture of a preferable future that God has communicated to an
    individual. The individual becomes so committed to the vision that he or
    she will pursue it despite any obstacles or challenges. Vision is the
    ingredient that launches an individual out of his or her place of
    stagnation and into forward action. I wrote a blog earlier this year on the 5 Elements of a powerful vision http://www.leadtoimpact.com/5-elements-of-a-powerful-vision-2/#more-933.  I know vision is of the up-most importance. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Steve Kolk

    Visioning is crucial. It’s been said that Vision leaks and that because Vision leaks you need to keep recasting, retelling the Vision. It is partially helpful to realize vision is leaky. For a better metaphor try this: vision is the water that flows in a river.

    A Visioneer has been to the mountaintop and knowstwo things from looking out over the valley. A Visioneer knows what the valley reality looks like in a big picture way. A mountain-climbing Visioneer has also been many places, having seen cities and communities built in many valleys. The Visioneer goes to the mountain top once in a while on purpose to dream, but not to dream just any dream. The Visioneer recasts his own city/community valley memories there on the mountain top – with big tears. These tears may be tears of sadness, but mostly they are tears of joy – joy over the big dreams the Visioneer captures on the mountaintop. You can’t live long on a mountaintop, a visioneer knows this, but the visioneer lives there just long enough to fill up his/her soul with a great big jumbo dream of what valley life is and could become.

    When the visioneer is full with this hope of glorious valley living, full of beauty, truth and goodness – then the visioneer goes back to the valley and fills every stream and river full over and over with these tears of hope and joy.

    A vision is crucial, yes. But it even more crucial is that there be visioneers whose souls are so full of hope for the beauty, truth and goodness that could be, that they cannot do anything but cry tears of hope. This hope-vision is so big in the heart of the visioneer that this hope-vision flows out in vision-words spoken over and over and over again.

    May God give us this kind of vision-telling visioneer!

  • http://profiles.google.com/bobevankc Bobby Shaw

    Vision is so incredibly important, Michael. I work for and am transitioning out of  position as a senior exec for a great restaurant company that over the last 6 years has been catapulted into the national spotlight and it is 100% due to having a clear, compelling vision. People have to believe that you can get them where you want to take them, but they first have to want to go there with you! I am so glad you reposted this. It is definitely truer now than ever.

  • Michael Holmes

    Every successful company have their mission and vision statement. It is the best way to define your goals and objectives. This is where we base our strategies. 

  • Dan Erickson

    Vision is important everyday, through the rest of this year and every year.  Without vision, not only do you lack leadership qualities, you lack creativity.  From a creative type, that doesn’t leave you with much.  I’m always looking, not only ahead, but all around me, and not only at the things that stand out, but at the little things, too.  http://danerickson.net

  • http://ayearinthespirituallife.blogspot.com/ Dayna Renee Hackett Bickham

    As I build my dream, I find that in the middle of the “to do” list I have to put reminders like “be patient” or “Remember the reason you are doing this” so that I don’t get weighed down by the little things. I am constantly checking my head and my heart for things that are crowding in on the Vision I have for my life and ministry and rearranging and pruning to get back on track.  Thanks for this nudge Michael. I needed it today!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Me too, Dayna. The little things than be huge deterrents to vision!

  • http://www.realseriousstuff.com/ Bobby Ray Burns

    I really do believe that vision is absolutely essential to the success of any enterprise. I press my own clients – small business owners – to articulate and write down their vision for their businesses. And then they must learn to impart that vision to their employees, because a vision shared is a vision has a real potential for becoming a reality. Great point here, Michael, and one that is always timely.

  • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

    “When times are tough, vision is the first casualty. Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing we must recover.” 
    I am here. Fighting through the roughest season ever in my six years as a small business owner. Today we fight to survive. But today I learned that I need to be fighting to cast vision and keep it front and center.  

    Today is rough. But we will strain forward.  Thank you for the injection of hope and encouragement. :)

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      An amazing thing happens when you continually communicate the vision to others.  It motivates you, too!  

      Hang in there, Aaron.  Greater things are yet to come…

      • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

        Thank you John, I truly appreciate your encouragement! I too believe greater things are on the horizon. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Swihart/100003908965783 Julie Swihart

    “Without vision the people perish” is still true! We all need a reason beyond ourselves to do what we do. Thank you Jesus for being our Reason!

  • Sjmjwheeler

    Vision is the key to long term success!  To be a leader you must carry the vision and be able share it with others in a way that they can see it as clearly as you do. Check out why vision matters now.

  • Linda S

    such important words to remember – equally important to having a vision, is sharing that vision.  If the vision isn’t shared from the top down, it isn’t much of a vision.  If our companies aren’t sharing a vision that we can get behind, then (as DJ WadeO reminded us) we must take our vision from scripture Col. 3:23-24.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380306612 Carol Buchanan

    Right on! Vision is so important that I wrote a mission statement for my historical fiction set in Montana. When anyone asks what I write, I tell them:

    “Stories of courage, faith, and hope in people forced to make dangerous choices to survive in the West.”

    It’s the guiding vision of all my fiction, and nonfiction as well.

  • Jjolley

    Extremely important and mostly missing from many of our leaders today….

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    In a volunteer organisation, I believe Vision is the only way you can keep people. The next step is making sure you love on your volunteers otherwise they generally walk out the door.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      People need to know where you are taking them, and that you care enough to get them there.

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

    The image for the post pretty much explains everything. Without a clear vision of where you or your organization is going you will just be blowing in the wind. And guess what, the wind can take you in many directions, and it might be someplace you do not want to be. Thanks for the post Michael.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      I love that image, too!

  • http://marleeward.com/ Marlee

    I saw an image on Facebook yesterday that read: Vision is believing in (what for now) only you may be able to see.

    And, I think without a vision you can lose heart in the possibility of attaining your goal all together. It’s exactly the thing you are referring to here.

    Whenever I think of vision I’m reminded of Habakkuk 2:2-3, where God say’s “Write the vision…so all can see…for surely it will take place.” Of course that’s my butchered and condensed version, but I think it simply points to the importance of casting a clear – written – vision for making sure you bring it to pass.

  • Cjros

    Michael. It is important to know how to visualize. Speak to any successful runner and they will tell you they have already visualized the finish line. I am a retired officer and one of the most important things I learned in the military is a thing called “backward planning”. All that is is visualizing the “end in mind” right up front. Trust me it works. Have you ever heard of it. If not I can show you how.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      So true!  Steven Covey states it this way in 7 Habits of Highly Successful People:  “Begin with the end in mind.”  

      So simple, yet so often forgotten.

  • Drake Hunter

    Without a valued vision in
    place my life seemed meaningless and insignificant. I wander through life as a sleepwalker
    (zombie) meandering from day to day, week to week, year to year.  Every day I would wake to ask “What am I doing
    with my life?”  Thanks to wonderful people such as Tom Morris (Author:
    True Success) Ray W. Lincoln (Author: I’m A Keeper) David Keirsey (Author:
    Please Understand Me II) and countless others I have the means to live an
    exciting and successful life through a clear, vivid and powerful vision, in-turn,
    steering me through an amazing and expressive life with excellence and
    happiness. So to answer the question, vision is LIFE IMPORTANT!  


    – The soul that has no established
    aim loses itself. Michel de Montaigne    

  • http://www.joshhunt.com/ Josh Hunt

    Does vision include the how as well as the what?

    Josh Hunt

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      I don’t think so, Josh.  Your “how” will be a result of your values and culture.  Your vision is just what it looks like when you get there.   

      I’ve been guilty of smashing the ability to achieve the vision in my own organization by pre-determining the “how” and communicating that as part of the vision.  I’ve learned that allowing the team to determine the “how” is a critical part in achieving their buy-in, which is required for meeting the goal.  I have to remind myself that I only care about getting to the vision, I don’t care how we do it (as long as our how falls within our values).   I’d love to hear the thoughts of others on this too!

  • Esthergal

    This blog post is so “right on.”  I work for a faith-based non-profit and during these trying economic times when decisions become pragmatic, you do start to wonder if what you are doing matters.  It takes strong determination to “stay the course” if you believe that’s what God has purposed you to do. 

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

    vision is the compass, vision creates the field on which that we play (with our values as the boundaries), vision is our sherpa. We get ruined when we forget vision. Sadly, so few of us have a clearly defined vision. Clarity on this issues makes complicated decisions simple, and brings confidence when we make those decisions. 
    A life without vision = 70+ years of spinning your wheels.
    (can you tell that I am passionate about this?)

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      What a great thing to be passionate about as a life coach and a dad!

    • Jim Martin

      Matthew, yes you are passionate about this!  Very good thoughts.  I especially like what you said regarding the need to have clarity on this issue in order to help decision making.  So right.

  • Patricia Gonzalez

    This is so very critical for life and ministry. I am immediately reminded of Proverbs 29:18
    “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

  • Patricia Gonzalez

    This is so critical to life and ministry. I immediately brings to mind Proverbs 29:18
    “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      That is so true.

  • Andrea

    Gosh with where my life is now (recently divorced, having to change jobs, probably need to move etc…) Vision is all I have! I keep reminding myself that this is just a temporary setback and all that I need to do is refocus on what I really want to do with my life (run a yarn store and teach fiber arts) and things will come together!

    Awesome that this blog post hit my inbox the day after my divorce celebration party!!!

    Cheers, Andrea 

  • http://www.themakegoodchoicesproject.org/ Michael Hawkins

    I think vision is REALLY important!  It’s like the road map of life. 

    We need a map, or plan.  Without one we don’t even stay in the same place, we slip backwards.

    Gotta have vision!

  • Shamrocks4kids

    The fog is rather thick these days. Finding a way through it all takes vision, purpose, focus and the ability to find the light at end of temporary tunnels. I know far to many people personally and professionally who have been hit hard in this bad economy, over and over again. Creating a range of targeted goals around our vision, with a bullseye goal, lends itself to design of strategic efforts aimed to get us to our goals. I find many practical and purposeful opportunities to employ your advice. This is particularly important to me at this time, as i face a new career search. My employer just went out of business and owers me $10k in back salary. So I thank you for sharing and helping me keep a positive focus.

  • rabbimoffic

    Couldn’t agree more. As Proverbs says, When there is no vision, the people perish. What I find critical today is for a leader to provide the urgency to create a shared vision with the community. The leader does not just state the vision and expect others to follow. Rather, he/she provides the inspiration and urgency to create it together. 

  • Perry

    Mr. H.
    I agree vision matters and it is a primary role of leaders to keep an organization’s vision of their vision (alignment) clear and on target. That’s why i think its more effective to start with a picture than words as we cast our vision. Pictures give us fertile fields to harvest words from, but not necessarily vice versa.

    • Jim Martin

      Perry, I appreciate the point you are trying to stress.  I do think words can be used to verbally paint a picture that will spark the imagination.  Good storytellers take the opportunity to paint such a picture.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    The word “vision” always makes me think of 2 Cor. 4:18, a personal favorite: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

  • http://twitter.com/liveabundantly8 Living in Christ

    Such truth! This reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures: Proverbs 29:18…”Where there is no vision, the people perish…”

    Amy von Borstel

  • ReasonDisciple

    Vision is very important! I do that more than anything else. It’s the foundation of all things we do. As a follower of Jesus we are to be conformed to Him. That’s what Paul called Him the foundation. Plus He was the Truth. He was the vision everything we say and do must “become the gospel.” But in any other environment the vision is the the purpose behind passionate action. When that does out, the people will most definitely perish!  They have to keep speaking it and living it out. They have to write it that someone may read it and run with it.

  • http://www.get-onpoint.com/ Alicia Terry

    Thank you Michael for the post. I’ve consistently find it’s vision that helps me course correct when I’ve drifted. It is knowledge of who I serve, why I desire to serve them, and the mark I want to make with my life that centers and re-energizes me. Knowing what the ultimate prize is and keeping one’s eyes on it during trying times is what I believe leads to purpose and legacy fulfilled.

  • Jess Mitchell

    I totally agree!  Vision gives clarity!  It’s how I know what to do, why I’m doing it, and why its’ worth it to go over the hurdles and challenges of life.  Vision is the lifeblood of our days, weeks and months.  I find that when my vision gets small, or skewed, I find myself frustrated and purposeless, and start questioning what I’m doing.  And I always find that the answer is to re-focus. 

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    “Without a vision, the people parish” you got to have a vision for not only your year but your life! My vision is also goals that I working towards.

  • http://www.cherishwellbeing.co.nz/ Philippa

    The ‘why’ is crucial – the cornerstone  to build anything.  Why gives us the 
    ‘raison d’etre’ – it’s what energises us to engage in anything.  
    Motivation is inspired by ‘why’ because it adds meaning – people are the lifeblood of businesses, so it’s important they understand the heart of the business to add value to its success.
    My tip to help clarify choices is to reflect on why it’s important.  Whatever you do in life make sure you’re doing it because you want to, not because you have to.

    • Jim Martin

      Phillippa, I really like this sentence:  “Why gives us the ‘raison d’etre’ – it’s what energises us to engage in anything.”  Very true!  When the “why” is clear, it gives us energy to engage.  Also, when it is not clear, the lack of energy is so evident. 

  • Shamash

    Considering the increased relevance of your comment in 2012,
    have to wonder if this a comment on the people of America, and their current, impoverished spiritual condition as a group —
    or a comment on individual leadership? 

    As Zapata — himself an effective and inspiring leader — said,


  • http://twitter.com/lancecashion lance cashion

    I believe vision is key.  In 2009, I had no choice but to become a better leader and cast a vision for my team and my family.  It was the most humbling, challenging and rewarding experience I have ever had.  By the grace of God and my experience at Entreleadership (a tip of the hat, if I may), I prayed-up, prepared and dove headfirst into the trenches.  The rest is history.  Every year is has its own unique challenges.  But, a clear vision and noble purpose defines a leader.  ‘Why’ is the reason we love to follow great leaders through the good, the bad and the ugly. 

    • Jim Martin

      Lance, I like the way you express this – “…a clear vision and noble purpose defines a leader.”  Very, very true.

  • Kari Scare

    Vision is crucial. I have and still am focusing on vision at an individual level. In fact my post last Friday (www.struggletovictory.com) and then again tomorrow get at this idea of vision for individuals. Not sure where I am going with this, but this comment discussion will certainly help me sort that out. Just feel like people focus on a larger corporate sort of vision and forget about focusing their own individual vision… Does that makes any sense to anyone?

  • Daniel

    The mark of a good leader is casting the vision daily. In every conversation that is held elements of the vision need to be stated. In talking with staff, supporters or prospective supporters or investors they each need to know how they connect to and are part of the vision becoming a reality. I’m watching an organisation right now that has a leader who doesn’t communicate with staff or supporters and hasn’t really articulated the vision in 2 years. When I asked the chairman of the Board about helping the leader cast the vision, his response – we don’t know where we’re going yet! Easy to see why the balance sheet for the last 2 years has been majorily (is that a word!) in the red. Cast the vision. Help people see where they fit. Give encouragement and share the small achievements and the curve becomes positive. Our God is a visionary God. Reading the Bible shows from beginning to end the vision is clear. Shows how we connect. Offers encouragement along the way. And tells us where we are headed. The journey in getting there is fantastic! 

  • Jackie gillam

    Vision is everything.  It is what drives us and sets us apart.  It defines us and redefines us when times are tough or sluggish or boring.  We need to constantly remind ourselves what our goals are, how we see our business (in my case), how we see ourselves, or like to see ourselves.  Many people (though it just takes a few) would suggest you go with the flow , do was is in or do it their way.  This is the time you need to revisit your goals and ideals and stick with them.  If this person was so inclined they could open their own business and do it their way or what ever their unasked for comments relate to.  This is not to say there is at times a good suggestion that can be weighed and possibly adopted.
    Honestly, it is more important   to specialize than try and appeal to everyone.  The route to success is be true to your vision and like minded people will find you and support you.  If you are trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.  Often people do not know what they like or think or need but in you they see something they can identify with.  They will underline your plans and goals. 

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    For several years I have had a business coach, Tim Enoch @ Building Champions, and one of their “core four” essentials is VISION. It was quite an assignment when I began writing my vision- my coach rejected my first effort ! He said “you can do better than that!” and he was right. I rewrote and made it so specific I wrote out specific conversations I would be having 5 years in the future! I read the vision to my team and they probably thought I was crazy – big, huge goals! One of those goals was to be asked to speak at an annual event for a very famous industry leader. Seemed impossible. When I received that invitation one year later, one of my team said “….that is in your vision !” I keep the vision in front of them – and it is powerful to witness the vision becoming reality.

    • Jim Martin

      Thank you Louise for sharing how your business coach helped you with the vision process.  Very helpful.

  • Ken Shaddox

    A great post. Thanks for reminding us all about the essential place of vision in every area of life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kay.harms Kay Winton Harms

    I think you’re dead on. I see this principle play out even in my own ministry, where it’s just me, myself, and I sitting at the conference table. But if I don’t constantly keep the big picture, the long-term goals, and the dreamy dreams in mind, then I lose sight of what I’m doing. That’s when I find myself spending too much time on the urgent and very little time on the important. Of course when I’m leading a group, it’s even more to cast a vision and constantly confirm it.

    Another place I consistently see this principle played out is at my local WalMart, Target, grocery store, etc. I can always tell when management has weekly or daily meetings in which they cast and recast vision as opposed to when those dailies or weeklies are turned into nothing but reviews and q&a’s. It goes something like this. I’m in the store looking for marshmallows…something I always have a difficult time locating for the first time in any store. I’m having to step around boxes and peek around piles because the clerk is restocking the shelves where I’m hunting for merchandise. The clerk doesn’t look up or ask if he can help me. Instead I have to ask him. He huffs and puffs, begrudgingly puts down the  pudding cups he’s unpacking and looks around for the marshmallows, all the time making me feel like I’ve just interrupted brain surgery to ask him to remove a thorn from my finger. This is the employee who has lost sight of the vision. This is the store where the manager has forgotten to cast the vision. This is the employee who has lost sight of why he has a job…because I, the customer, am shopping for marshmallows!

    • Jim Martin


      I appreciate your example in the second paragraph.  In fact, as I read through your scenario, I began to wonder if we had not shopped in the same store!  It is all too familiar.

      You are right.  It is important to constantly keep our eyes on the vision or we lose sight of what we are doing.

  • Talia

    “Without vision the people perish” is how important God views vision and also the book of Amos says how can two go together if they do not agree?

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

    An excellent reminder that without vision the people perish.  

    I agree with your premise that at this time we are at an inflection point.  There are gloomers, birthers, preppers and truthers everywhere.

    But what we need most is visionaries.  People who can look ahead and paint a picture of a preferred future.  

    The economy is still not good; there are challenges at every turn.  But Americans won’t suddenly wake up one day devoid of an entrepreneurial  spirit, or a compassionate heart.  We will make good choices, and out of difficulty will come great opportunity.

    For some.

    Those are the ones with vision.

  • http://www.wrjoycejuiceplus.com/ Joyce Weaver

    In my morning quiet time, I often have the words jump out at me about leading others to greater fulfillment of their work that He made before the beginning for them to do. It’s where we are working in our Women’s Ministry, so He’s leading the gals right there with you!

  • Wmtwa

    Vision is a critical component to life whether in good times or challenging ones. It is important to be able to “see” options and establish the kind of hope that yields energy and focus. However, vision alone is not enough. Life also requires work..real, hard, diligent, and focused effort into the people and things that are a part of our circle of contacts. One without the other is depressing, frustrating, discouraging, and futile. Together anything can be accomplished.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    I think vision is the drives force to accomplishing our goals and dreams. If we want to see better results and be more productive then we need to be focusing on our personal vision. Great thoughts.  

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      You are so right. I feel like vision is the fuel. When the vision is clear and explained with passion it’s like using rocket fuel.

      • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

         Great point about passion. It’s an important aspect.

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

    Your final words on this post are so true “When times are tough, vision is the first casualty. Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing we must recover.” I’m reading through the book~ Platform now and I know it will help with my vision! Thanks.

    • Jim Martin

      That sentence caught my attention as well, Teresita.  In fact, I made a note of this.  How true!

  • Steve Lerum

    Hi Michael. I used this    T.E. Lawrence quote on my business card in 1982…Says it all!  Thanks for all you do!

    Steve Lerum
    Pilot, B-777 International
    United Airlines

  • Correen

    I believe vision comes from God….and that’s all I got to keep going.  At this time in my life I am unemployed and struggling really bad.  I relocated and had to start all over again leaving with my parents & child.  God continues to give me visions and reminds me of his promises & provisions.  Si I think vision is very important.  We need something to keep us pushing and making it.  I always called my self a visionary due to my creative side so I will not change now!!! VISION keeps us encouraged to move forward!!

  • Rosehiptea

    Vision is wonderful, and those who have talent at communicating that vision, or implementing, delegating, creating action around a vision, are needed. 

  • FrancesVictoria

    Vision: Vision is crucial, not only to get where you’re going, but when leading to gain the momentum of those whose help you need to get there.
    It’s never to late to recalibrate your vision…if your vision has taken a hit and focus has been lost; then start by recasting a new and fresh vision to start digging yourself (company) out of the ditch, one step at a time. A vision well communicated builds passion that can sustain!

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  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    What you see is what you get! 

    (And, what you don’t see is what you miss.)

    Timely words, Michael!

  • gary duke

    Many of us need to simplify rather than complicate our methods.  But isn’t it necessary to have a vision for each of our “roles” as Stephen Covey named them?

    My roles are Spiritual, Family, Work, Others, & Self.  I have a vision statement for each role (followed by a mission statement for each, and goals for each role).  Previously I have had problems balancing the roles in my life.  Frequently reviewing the VMG (vision-mission-goals) for each role has helped me maintain that balance, or at least at a better level than I was able to before. 

    I agree that vision is crucial to our plans.

  • Martha

    I think it’s huge!  As a personal life coach, I keep a closet door in my office covered with things I need to remember and that I want to be able to share with my clients.  One of my favorite is, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”   The author is unknown, but I know s/he is a leader with vision, and who has the insight to draw the purposes, the songs, out of the deep waters of a person’s heart. (Pro 20:5)

    • Ira Webbe

      that quote…wow! I think I’ve found my favorite quote ever. It’ll be hard to take this one down. thanks for sharing

  • Ira Webbe

    When it came to the topic of vision, my mentor pointed and explained to me Ecclesiastes 2:14, that states, “The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness….” Without vision the only thing that you have to lead you is your physical senses for what you see, feel and hear….physically. Once you are there you are prey to all the ideas that are around you and if one is sounding great at some time you can sell yourself to another idea – off YOUR purpose. And be there for a long time or until the same thing happens again.

    ‘Wisdom and understanding is to knowledge and skill what Vision is to mission and action plans’, he told me. When going through a tough season wisdom will tell you what you need to learn or what tool to use to continue building because there is more to Vision than physical progress! Growing in your soul is most important. After all if we are in business, it is to serve a need…what better way to continue building the Vision in tough times than by learning patience.

    Easier said than done.

  • http://twitter.com/fuelthemuse Debra Hilton

    Vision is critical.  The Bible says: “Without vision the people perish.”  In some modern translations ‘vision’ is updated to ‘leadership’.  Either way, it’s an intentional moving forward towards a specific goal or vision.  Without it, we tend to spin our wheels.  With it … the sky’s the limit.

  • Eileen Wallace

    Absolutely, absolutely- well said

  • Debra Rapert

    Vision is critical.  Vision is for the employees – not the Leaders.

  • Cfarrell

    Vision energizes me each day. When it is weak, I am weak…and apathetic. Must keep it and share it, ot listen to others that have similar vision.