Your purpose explains what you are doing with your life. Your vision explains how you are living your purpose. Your goals enable you to realise your vision. – Bob Proctor

If you don’t know where you’re going you might just end up somewhere else. If you are busy going no-where and you get to a fork in the road, it doesn’t matter which side you choose. If your people don’t know where you’re going they will help you get lost.

Ian Thomas wrote a book in 1992 called, “The Power of the Pride.” He lived with and studied a specific pride of lions for more than 20 years. The need to provide for the pride is always the difference between extinction and survival. I don’t think many leaders underst and that this is the same with having a vision and goals for their companies. Underst anding the reason why they exist, and what they need to do to sustain the company into the future. We need to realise it is a matter of survival…

It is scary how often we work with companies, where even in the top leadership, the vision, mission and goals of the company and their departments are not clear. I have seen CEO’s extremely upset that the very people they expect to execute on the strategy are not clear on what they have set out to achieve. Ian speaks about companies printing their vision, mission and goals on small flash-cards, and laminating it, expecting the leaders to walk around with these cards in their top pockets to remind themselves of the reason they are doing what they’re doing, and where they’re heading. I don’t think the idea is necessarily a bad one, but have they asked themselves why people can’t remember it? Isn’t there something wrong with the vision or the goals that makes it so difficult, or insignificant that their staff can’t remember what they are busy with and how to contribute to its success..? Do they believe it’s possible? Are they individually equipped for the task and do they believe they are up to it? Is it really that important to have a vision and goals?

In his book, Ian likens the company goals to this pride hunting Buffalo. A Buffalo bull can weigh up to 900 kgs. He says this Buffalo isn’t just enormously strong and life threateningly dangerous; but also looks at you like you owe him money. When a pride sets out to hunt, they somehow always instinctively focus on the same target. Never will you find anyone in the pack veering off to the side and start chasing a warthog which surely is easier and safer to catch. The bigger the Buffalo, the bigger the risk, the higher the reward, but everyone needs to be sold and committed to the same target. If you introduce a friend to someone dull and boring; he might forget the name within a minute or two. If you introduce him to the prettiest girl in town, he’d most probably remember her name for the rest of his life. For any team to be fully committed to a task, the end result needs to be either incredibly beautiful, or extremely dangerous. A goal they don’t need to carry around in the top pockets to remind them of what it is. A goal or vision that despite the fact that it scares them – they believe they can pull it off, with a reward they all want.

It is therefore extremely important to involve everyone involved in deciding on the vision, and unpacking the goals. It is equally important to ensure that it encompasses the personal dreams and goals of the team responsible in making it happen. The end result needs to excite them all. They need to see the benefit for themselves in the successful completion of the task. They need to make the link between what they are expected to do and their personal journeys, dreams and goals.

Bob Proctor believes you need to set a goal to achieve something that is so BIG and so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time. He believes that if you know exactly what you need to do to realise the vision or goal, it probably isn’t challenging enough.

If your people know what they are out to achieve, how it contributes to the realisation of their own plans and it excites them all, they will be creatively involved to achieve it and be prepared to sacrifice to make it happen. If the picture of the end result is vague and the reasons unclear; your own people will be the biggest reason why you most probably won’t succeed. They will complain about small things, sabotage your best efforts and drag their feet.

Someone told me a story about his own family that illustrated this principle beautifully. He was a financial advisor for a big insurance company that saw his clients mostly in the evenings. His two sons were teenagers and used to complain about him having to work after hours. One day they asked him if he could buy them a small dingy to transport their fishing lines into the river, when they go fishing… a hobby they felt passionately about. At that stage, he couldn’t afford the expense. Instead of just saying no, they sat together and determined how many policies he needed to sell to cover the household expenses AND put aside funds to purchase the boat after 6 months. He also explained how many appointments he needed, to make it happen and what the implications would be for them as family. This changed everything. He still worked late, but they now helped him find leads from teachers and parents and friends that he could set up appointments with. In the past when he used to come late they would have been upset. Now they were waiting for him in anticipation when he got home in the evenings interested in the success “they” had that day. They were not upset that he came late, but were sometimes even upset when he came home too early. 

Someone once said: “Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant.” But make sure that it is something that speaks to the hearts of your people. Involve them in the process. Help them underst and the risks. Help them to make the link between their own journeys and successful completion of the relevant goals in line with a common purpose and vision.

Do this and you will be unstoppable!

Stefan Lessing