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Vision Statements: Let Yourself Dream Big

October 25, 2013

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guiding principles, wisdom

Every organization has founding principles, from the biggest multinational to the local non-profit. Different sectors may have different names for them, but they boil down to three things: a Mission, a Vision, and Values.

Put A Man On The Moon In Your Lifetime

The Visionary

Most of the time, people are all concerned about their mission statements, but where you want to start is really the Vision Statement. Talking about your mission before your vision is like starting your road trip without a destination: it may be fun, but you’ll spend most of your time just wandering around aimlessly.

A Vision Statement describes what you want to create. In the arts and charity realm, your vision is the change that you want to see in the world thanks to your organization. It is your dream put into words.

An ideal vision statement is short and to the point. If it is too long or complex, is won’t have the immediacy and drive that it needs. Your vision is an aspiration and it should sound like the closer to the best rallying speech you’ve ever given.

Doing It For Yourself

The visions of retail and service-based companies tend to be ego-centric, focusing on becoming the best they can be. These visions aren’t necessarily bad— they do provide a direction for the company— but they represent small dreams. For example:

Macy’s vision is
“to operate Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s as dynamic national brands while focusing on the customer offering in each store location.” Source

Cleveland Clinic’s vision is
“to strive to be the world’s leader in patient experience, clinical outcomes, research and education.” Source

These basically say “we want to be the best we can be.” Which, sure, that’s great, but is that enough to truly inspire a team of people to greatness? A small vision might get you to your first step as a company or artist, but an easily attainable dream is one you won’t keep around very long. If anybody tells you that your vision statement should be updated every few years, they aren’t thinking big enough.

Point To The Horizon

The best vision statements tend to be crafted by charity and non-profit organizations. They show us the world if the organization succeeds in their mission. There’s a reason we call our most amazing leaders “visionaries.”

Susan G. Komen’s vision is
“a world without breast cancer.” Source

Oxfam’s vision is
“a just world without poverty”Source

The Nature Conservancy’s vision is
“to leave a sustainable world for future generations.”Source

The vision of the Special Olympics is
“To transform communities by inspiring people throughout the world to open their minds, accept and include people with intellectual disabilities and thereby anyone who is perceived as different.” Source

The reason these visions are the best is because they are grand. They follow the maxim that “man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” You can’t get more inspirational than the eradication of cancer, or poverty, or human prejudice.

Dream Big Or Go Home

Photo: Paul Arden book

The best favor you can do for yourself is to pick up a copy of Paul Arden’s It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. To give you a clue into what you can expect, the subtitle is “the world’s best-selling book.” Now THAT’S an aspiration! Not only is this book full of amazing self-promotional advice distilled into the shortest, most impactful statements possible, it will teach you that crafting a vision is all about dreaming big.

Do you love to write? You do yourself a disservice if your vision is just “to be an author” or “to be a great author.” Your vision should be “to be the most widely-read author in the world” or” the most prolific.” Even better, expand the vision beyond yourself and your vision will become “to write books that change readers’ perceptions of their world.” Give your dreams the scope they deserve, and they will last you (or your company) a lifetime.

Ready To Roll

So now you’ve got a vision of what you want to accomplish— what’s the next step? The mission statement. If a vision is your aspiration, a mission is how you’re going to get there. We’ll cover missions statements in detail next week. In the meantime, give me a shout in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter if these ideas strike a chord.


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    […] or organization. We’ve covered your mission or statement of purpose, describing what you do, and your vision, describing the impact you want to have on the world. What else is there? […]

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