“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Steve Jobs
Becoming a vision keeper is the single most important job of any leader. To keep the vision of an organization, first you must uncover YOUR vision “at the center of the image you were born with,” says David Whyte poet and inspirational, organization consultant.
Vision guides us. As Steve Jobs states above, vision is compelling. A clear vision helps people know if they want to follow you. We build a solid future from a clear vision.
To name your vision – not fall back on your organizational vision or the “I’m just here to support my family” vision – though both are noble, when you name your personal vision life gets real – you question everything. This by nature unsettles you. Bravery is naming your vision. The vision keeps you at your edge.
Through my work, I interact with, coach, and teach many people. I meet some people who embody their vision. I meet others who don’t. People have palpable presence when they embody their vision. There is no striving, they simply are, and I feel it. You likely do as well.
When Jim first came to me for coaching, he was exhausted. He spent much of his time taking care of others. He would say he was just doing his job, which is true. Jim had a strong commitment to support his family and his people at work. What we discovered as we worked together is that he lived life in fear of disappointing others. People would not pick that up from him. But during his visioning inquiry, that is what we uncovered.
From the moment he woke up until the moment he went to bed and even in his dreams he was running to keep up so he didn’t slip up and disappoint anyone. He was exhausted, in a perpetual state of sickness, and worried that he might never get better.
As he began to peel away the layers that kept him moving and began to settle into the parts of him that needed a break, he realized that until he took good care of himself he could not take good care of others.
This seems simple. You are saying of course. I could have told you that, he didn’t need to go through any process. I wonder if you are like me – human. I am so human that whenever someone tells me something obvious – like what is your point in your blog, there are too many points for me to know – I initially bristle and then breathe. I have learned that they are trying to help me. Yet, I still resist their feedback. It all seems so clear to me, they must be wrong.
Jim could not hear anyone. He was so focused on his path that he could not see any alternative. In fact, people were worried about him. They told him that he seemed dull and tired. He made the excuse it was just winter. When summer came around, he made more excuses. Only after he began the vision inquiry and started to sort out the data, was Jim able to see the patterns for himself. It was a eureka moment. He said, “I live my days in fear of disappointing people.” After he spoke, the thread of truth was lit. It illuminated where he learned this practice and why. He began to see this response in all his relationships and habits. He also felt instantly lighter. As if he just pulled a thick, wet blanket off himself.
Once Jim named his vision – to live in harmony with myself and others – he grew an inch and took up more space. His step was lighter and his voice that was once strained and slightly garbled became clear and strong. Within a week, he was not sick anymore. His was rested. And his dreams were more calm.
As he walked his new path, people noticed a difference. His presence demanded people be accountable. They didn’t always like the new Jim, and he was OK with that, because they believed in him now more than ever. They were more willing to work with him because he was able to hold onto himself.
The visioning process is not easy. It takes time and effort. But the effort is worth the time. Jim could align who he was on the inside – a lover of harmony – with his work and life more effortlessly. This is not to say there weren’t setbacks, conflicts, or disagreements. Whenever we name our vision, we must be prepared for an increase in challenges. Yet the challenges feel productive because we understand our why, our vision, our place of belonging. We discover why we are here and what our life is for. We gain meaning. And if there is anything humans crave besides safety and belonging, it is meaning.
Find meaning. Become a vision keeper.