When it comes to success in life or business, we know we need to know what we want. But how do we go from a dream to real life? How does an aspiration become a success?
In this week’s blog and podcast, I discuss the power of vision with best-selling author and successful businessmanMichael Hyatt, and how vision precedes resources, directs alignment and execution, reduces unnecessary stress at work and at home, and leads to long-term success.
Today, there is more anxiety than ever before. It seems like everyone is struggling to juggle everything that is on their plate; working 70 to 80 hours a week seems “normal” and burnout is part and parcel of everyday life. But, just because this is the way things are for many people doesn’t mean that things ought to be this way.
Thankfully, having a clear vision in business and life helps you differentiate between what is a distraction, which just leads to busy work, and an opportunity. As Michael notes, vision helps you know what is important and where it is you are going. It helps you focus on what you really need to accomplish, reducing your workload, your stress levels and your anxiety, which, in turn, makes both the workplace and your home more mental health-friendly.
Vision is especially important if you are already successful. The more successful you are, the more opportunities you will encounter, which is good in some respects, but can also be overwhelming if you don’t have a clear vision!
Having a vision also doesn’t mean that you will encounter no challenges. The road to success is always rocky, but knowing your vision gives you a reason to press on when you want to quit, as Michael describes in his book Living Forward. It helps you face and overcome the “messy middle”, when you are too invested to quit but you are not sure you have the resources to finish. Vision gives you “the why”, encouraging you to keep on keeping on.
This kind of vision is not merely a mission statement. It is a process, which includes creating what Michael calls a vision script. This is a document that is around 3 to 5 pages, which looks at the future of your business (that is the next 3 to 5 years), written in the present tense. Writing down your vision in this way not only organizes your thinking, but also makes your vision seem more real. Just like an Olympic athlete rehearsing strategy in his or her mind before the game, writing down your vision in the present tense makes it seem more tangible; it helps you picture your vision as a coherent reality.
Your vision script should have four parts:
- The future of your team: Your team helps you make your vision a reality, laying the foundation of company’s culture, which is the unseen force that drives true and lasting success.
- The future of your products, which includes asking yourself what is the transformation your products will create?
- The future of marketing, or the story you will tell about your business.
- The future of your impact: what is your reach?
Michael, in his new book The Vision-Driven Leader, describes the 5 steps to creating your vision script:
- Schedule it: if you don’t put something on your calendar, the likelihood of you actually doing it is small!
- Get input: talk to people you trust about your goals and listen to what they have to say!
- Trust the process: although writing down your vision can be overwhelming, keep on keeping on! Michael has an amazing vision scripter tool online to help you do this, so check it out!
- Tweak as you go: your vision script doesn’t need to be perfect, just functional. You can always change things up as you grow!
- Go ahead a launch: don’t wait for everything to be “just perfect”. Take that first step and be willing to learn and change as you go.
Once you have your vision script, you can create an annual plan for your company, which outlines your goals for next 3 years. Focus on a limited number of goals, around 7 to 10 goals per annum, and 2 to 3 goals per quarter, with 3 weekly priorities as your focus and the “big 3” tasks as your daily goal. Why? Too many tasks can make you and your team feel overwhelmed and defeated, as it is very unlikely you will complete everything in the allotted time. This can affect the morale of the company, which, in turn, can obstruct the larger vision that you have put in place.
Indeed, as Michael points out, knowing and following your vision lays the ground for effective leadership. If your employees don’t know what your vision as a company is, it is like treading water: there is a lot of “fake work” and sideways energy and no one is really getting anywhere. Vision, on the other hand, gives the team confidence, purpose and meaning, enabling you as a leader to recruit and keep the people that you need to succeed. Vision comes first—your resources follow your vision!
Having a clear vision also helps you avoid the “hustle fallacy”, that is the notion that you should “hustle” and work long, grueling hours to be successful. This kind of mentality often leads to burnout, failed health and relationships, and mental distress, shifting the focus from results to how much a person works. This kind of mentality, in turn, creates an extremely toxic working environment and often leads to a high turnover rate. If you have a clear vision, however, you can shift the focus from working hours to actual results, enabling you and your employees to put clear boundaries between work and home. As a leader, you want the people who are under you to come to work ready to give their best, and they (and you!) can only do that when they are rested.
In fact, research shows that our productivity tends to decrease if we work more than 50 hours a week, so longer hours does not necessarily mean better work. This is why vision is indispensable: it helps you differentiate, as mentioned above, between what is important and what is just busy work, enabling you to say yes to what you need to say yes to, and gives you the means to say no when you need to say no. If you don’t create work boundaries, on the other hand, the work is never ending, which will wear you and your team down. So, give yourself and those under you permission to rest and play, which are integral to our mental and physical wellbeing, and help us give our best at work and at home. We should not be living for retirement because we are exhausted now. We should be living for each day—we shouldn’t let our work become our identity.
Creating a healthy and understanding environment at work also means that you, as a leader, need to be honest with the people under you. Recognize that we are all human: we all struggle, and we all have mental vulnerabilities. Normalize, don’t stigmatize, mental health. Doing so enables your employees to be open and honest with you about their struggles, which fosters relationship and makes the workplace a safer and more productive environment.
For more information on vision, leadership and mental health, listen to my podcast with Michael (episode #146), check out his website, blog, podcast and books. If you enjoy listening to my podcast please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing! And keep sharing episodes with friends and family, and on social media (don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
Podcast Time Highlights
2:18 How Michael became a leadership mentor
4:25 What is the difference between an opportunity and a distraction?
7:07 What do you do when you encounter resistance?
10:00 What is a vision script?
18:58 How to become a more effective leader
27:05 The hustle fallacy
31:19 How to create a vision script
37:00 Why you need to give yourself permission to rest
39:40 The value of play
45:00 Don’t let your work become your identity
47:55 Why vision is a process, not a statement
55:15 How to talk to a boss/manager about mental health
If you would like to learn more about vision, leadership and mental health, join me at my Mental Health Solutions Summit in Dallas, TX December 3-5, 2020! This conference is for everyone: teachers, CEOs, students, parents, doctors, life coaches...everyone! For more information and to register click here. Early bird special pricing end 4/30!
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