Weekly Thought – April 25, 2023
Fred believed vision is a key element of strong leadership. His thoughts on vision generate thought and conversation. This week’s email highlights his response to a question about the nature of vision as part of a healthy, mature life.
Seeing and Leading
A journalist recently asked me about my thinking on vision. I think he expected me to give reasons for a lifelong plan with an overarching theme. But I don’t believe a vision has to be set for life. I think a vision can be crafted for periods of time and for specific areas. For example, a young athlete might envision a professional career. However, skill and experience don’t match up to the demands and expectations. The vision must change. And wise professional athletes might realize the vision of elite performance, but age or injury will inevitably end that career – and the vision, though complete, must change. The saavy athlete makes plans for the next stage of life, not assuming to ride the coattails of athletic performance sustain them after playing.
I now see many of my friends who had a strong vision for executive success – and attained it. But retirement came. The vision which motivated and generated energy is now a fait accompli. A new picture of the future must absolutely be developed.
One exception is the vision of who we want to be as men and women of character… that vision can be lifelong, and should be. In fact, we should be growing in maturity the older we get. The picture we have of ourselves should include a clear idea of who we are becoming, not just what we are doing.
I find it helpful to seriously survey my life as I age, recognizing the key areas of interest and activity. It is sad to see older men and women madly dashing from place to place filling time and trying to satisfy their need for significance. My mentor, Maxey Jarman, looked at the philanthropic sector of his life and decided he only wanted to give to four outreaches. This gave focus to his giving. He expressed his thinking by writing out a clarified giving vision.
Let me say this: I believe a vision should be broad enough and far enough out in the front of us that it gives us an idea of what we want to accomplish, who we are as people, how we want to be judged, and what reputation we want to carry. All of this requires discipline and repeated assessment.
Defining who you want to be as a person should be foundational, and many of the aspirations and dreams can be expansive. But all visions should be consistent with who we want to be during each stage of our lives – and how we want to be remembered when it is our time to go.
This week think carefully about: 1) What are my current visions for myself as related to family, career, friends, and faith? 2) How can I effectively assess my current vision? 3) Who do I respect with clear vision?
Words of Wisdom: “The picture we have of ourselves should include a clear idea of who we are becoming, not just what we are doing.”
Wisdom from the Word: “There are many plans in a person’s mind, but it is the counsel of the LORD that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21 NET Bible)