Staying with themes from Warren Bennis' book, On Becoming a Leader, today's post is about one of the most critical. I confess that this topic is written about abundantly and sometimes it seems like overkill, but nonetheless it is extremely important. It is the subject of what Bennis calls guiding vision, and appropriately it is in a chapter with the title, "Understanding the Basics." Bennis describes this aspect as the first ingredient of leadership, and goes on to write, "The leader has a clear idea of what he or she wants to do - professionally and personally - and the strength to persist in the face of setbacks, even failures" (p. 33).
It sounds like it would be a quick, easy task to identify and proclaim your personal guiding vision. I mean, this should be the driving force in your life, yet I have found that this is one of the most difficult challenges for me. Moreover, with each new phase of life or career change there is a sense to recalibrate, or at least, re-evaluate one's current guiding vision. Still, despite the transitions and crises that come up in life, there is probably one, central drive to each person's life. Some call it passion. Some call it vision. To others it is a calling. It is that reason we exist. We may build differently on it at times, but at its foundation there is very little change over time (barring a radical, spiritual transformation or something of that sort).
For me, my personal guiding vision is clear. My purpose is to spur on radical reformation of public education, the church, and myself to promote a free and fruitful generation.
That is my foundation. It is my overarching vision that guides everything else (or so it should, but sometimes laziness and apathy get the better of me). Now, I have to build relational priorities, professional goals, physical habits, family values, etc. on that foundation. That is where the vision gets fleshed out on practical levels.
I am challenged at this level in two areas right now. (Well, more than two, but only two that I want to concentrate on for now.) One is related to my profession as an educator. The other is related to a ministry I am trying to create with my niece aimed at young people.
My call to action for anyone reading this post is to ask where you might be struggling to clearly articulate your vision. Could it be as a spouse, parent, follow of Jesus, manager at work, U.S. citizen, social justice advocate, community volunteer, etc.? In what ways do the different areas, or roles, that you come up with tie in to a bigger, overarching vision for your whole life?
My next couple posts will be places where I share my conclusions in these two areas and offer some things to think about in formulating your own vision.