This blog is an excerpt from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers as a companion to the Voice America show aired on November 20, 2018, Love at Work: The Essential Guide to a Life of Inspired Purpose. This show was a conversation with Olivia Parr-Rud with host Maureen Metcalf talking about their aspirations and visions as successful leaders.
If you plan annual goals, this blog will serve as a helpful foundation. It spells out the exercise to define your personal vision and gives an example of Demetrius as he completed the exercise.
It is important to note that many people will complete this exercise and still not have a clearly articulated vision—this is because defining personal vision requires a great deal of introspection for most people. While some people grow up knowing what they want to do for a living, others find that identifying a vision is a process of gradual exploration and will take more time and energy than completing a single workbook exercise. You will likely refine your vision as you progress through blog posts based on the information you learn about yourself. Because the visioning process is iterative in nature—a process of self-discovery—these exercises in this book will serve as the foundation for a longer process that may take considerably more time to complete. It will likely change as you gain experience and as your introspective process matures.
Define Personal Vision
Follow the steps defined below:
- Step 1: Create a picture of your future. Imagine yourself at the end of your life. You are looking back and imagining what you have done and the results you have created.
- What is the thing of which you are most proud?
- If you had a family, what would they say about you?
- What did you accomplish professionally?
- What would your friends say about you?
For the rest of this exercise, let that future person speak to you and help you set a path that will enable you to look back with pride and say things like, “I feel fulfilled and at peace. I lived my life well.”
- Step 2: Write a story. Now that you have that image of what you will accomplish, write a brief story about your successful life. Include details about the questions above. Make it a story of what you went through to accomplish each of the results for the questions you answered. What you are trying to create is a roadmap for your journey that gives you more insight into what you would want if you had the option to design your perfect life.
- Who helped you along the way?
- What did you enjoy about your daily life?
- Who was closest to you?
- What feelings did you have as you accomplished each milestone along the way?
- How did you mentor others and contribute to the success of others?
- What did you do to maintain your health?
- What role did spirituality or religion play in your journey?
- What job did you have?
- What role did material success play in your life?
- What type of person were you (kind, caring, driven, gracious)
- Step 3: Describe your personal vision. Given the story you have written and the qualities you demonstrated as a person, write a two to five sentence life-purpose statement—a statement that talks about your highest priorities in life and your aspirations. This statement should capture the essence of how you want to live your life and project yourself.
An example – My vision is to develop myself to my greatest capacity and help others develop and thrive in all aspects of their lives. I will live consciously and courageously, relate to others with love and compassion, and leave this world better for my contribution.
- Step 4: Expand and clarify your vision. If you are like most people, the choices you wrote are a mixture of selfless and self-centered elements. People sometimes ask, “Is it all right to want to be covered in jewels, or to own a luxury car?” Part of the purpose of this exercise is to suspend your judgment about what is “worth” desiring, and to ask instead which aspect of these visions is closest to your deepest desire. To find out, ask yourself the following questions about each element before going on to the next one: If I could have it now, would I take it?
Some elements of your vision don’t make it past this question. Others pass the test conditionally: “Yes, I want it, but only if…” Others pass, but are later clarified and distilled in the process. As you complete this exercise, refine your vision to reflect any changes you want to make.
Example: Demetrius’ Vision Development Process
When I look into the future I want to be proud of the person I have become and the life that I have lived. In particular, I want to ensure that my wife and I have raised a beautiful family in which our children think independently and are able to articulate their own personal visions. I would like for my children to be able to say I have been there for them every step of the way, and allowing them to experience life while guiding them away from danger when possible. For me, family and family interactions are highly valued, so the closest people to me are my wife and our children. However, I don’t discount the close friends I have known since high school and those I’ve met along the journey since college.
Professionally, I want to create an organization whose culture represents my personality: relaxed and laid back, yet focused and driven. I want to create a work environment in which people are excited about their work and where they can accomplish their professional goals. Finally, my organization must take into account our community and to find ways to give back every chance we get.
My vision is to develop myself to my greatest capacity and create a healthy and loving environment in which my family will thrive. I strive to be a friend who can be counted on in every way. I will create a business that delivers value to our clients and community and has a culture where people can thrive and grow personally.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.