On Abundance and Deficiency: Vision and Mission

Why is it that there is an abundance of certain types of character traits and societal values, yet those that are most needed are either deficient or non-existent?

This week, I’m going to post a series of thoughts specifically related to the abundance and deficiency of: vision and mission, leaders and managers, education and information, silence and noise, and ending with urgency and immediacy.

Vision and Mission: Which do you need most?

We hear a lot of about vision and mission. Businesses and not-for-profits typically write vision and mission statements that give an overview to the purpose and intent of that particular organization. Vision statements are described as shortened versions of extensive mission statements, a few sentences versus a couple paragraphs. However, vision is not just a brief synopsis of a larger mission. Vision implies a glimpse of what the future holds, while mission is a plan to bring a specific vision to life.

It appears that there is a deficient lack of vision in not only business, but in individual lives, education, and government. A weak mission may exist, but often has less to do with vision and more to do with maintaining a certain standard that is good enough, the perpetuation of the status quo. Why is there a deficiency in vision? Is it because the pursuit of vision involves a fair amount of risk? Or have the powers-that-be allowed sloth and greed to erase the capacity for imagining a better future in favor of accepting an “okay” present?

It is imperative to have an abundance in both vision and mission. Without vision, mission is passionless and fruitless. Without mission, vision will stay in the mind, never becoming reality.

A Personal Journey of Vision and Mission

When I first started my business in 2006, I didn’t have a specific vision in my mind. I had a mission and it was to survive–make enough money to pay my bills. Not the greatest way to start a business, but it’s what I had at the time. I came up with a tagline that served as an entry-level way to distinguish myself from all the other designers, as well as functioning as a make-shift mission statement: Your Image. Your Story. My Passion. Unfortunately, without a mission statement, let alone a solid vision for the future, I was not as stable in the first few years of my business. I survived, but that’s all that I was able to do.

As I work through year six, I am aware of how important vision and mission are to the success of not only my business, but my life. I am currently dreaming and creating what a sustainable future looks like, heavily reliant upon a clear vision and a specific mission. So, how do I foster and develop an abundance of vision and mission?

Developing Vision and Mission

1.) Where Are You At? – Whether you are running a profitable business or the outlook isn’t looking so good for the future, identify where you are at. Look at your finances, not only in the present, but look at past performance. Employee and employer morale is also an important indicator of success or failure. Is morale increasing or decreasing? Are people knocking down the door to work for your company or is the backdoor swinging so fast from the mass-exodus of workers that it is in danger of falling off the hinges? Looking at the past and present will help you to know what needs to change in order to move forward into the future. As author Neil Postman writes, “The only way to see the future is to look in the rearview mirror.”

2.) Where Do You Want To Go? – What is the vision for your future? Write it out. Take a risk. I like the term BHAG: Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. If your vision doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, then you are on track for creating a deficient and lacking future. Dream big dreams, that is the first step to changing the world.

3.) What Do You Need To Get There? – Once you know where you are at and where you want to go, only then do you determine what you need to get there. What equipment is needed? Do you need to expand your workforce by hiring skilled and specialized workers? Are there internal funds to adequately cover the cost of bringing the vision to life or is outside venture capital needed?

4.) What Is Your Plan Of Attack? – Now, you need a plan of attack: a mission. Missions are great ways to rally a group of people towards a common pursuit. People give their lives to causes they believe in. If your vision is life-changing and world-altering, and people believe that by working hard and following the plan of attack that vision will come to reality, then guess what? The vision will thrive, grow, and eventually be what you saw in your mind all along.

5.) What Are You Going To Do When You Get There? – There is a cyclical nature to vision. Once a vision becomes reality, a new vision is needed. So, do you have a plan for when your vision is a reality? At what point along your journey to fulfill your vision do you create a new vision? Or is one vision enough to sustain your happiness, profitability and success?

Create a success plan by constantly reviewing and analyzing your answers to the above questions. They can help you to develop an abundance of vision and mission.

Do You Need Permission To Dream?

To answer the question, no one needs permission to dream and to be told to act. Yet, we are surrounded by inaction and laziness. Whatever you need to move forward into the great unknown of the pursuit of your vision, find it, and know that you have at least one person willing to tell you that you have all the permission necessary to change the world.

Now, get to work.