What Is Your Vision – You Can’t Blow an Uncertain Trumpet

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision; you can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” Theodore M. Hesburgh, President, Notre Dame

September is a time of change for many people. Even if we are not currently a student, most of us have spent so many years of our lives as students and around students that we associate September, and fall in general, with a season of change, excitement and growth. Always a little heady, sometimes a little scary, major life change seems to be expected and anticipated more in September that in any other month of the year. For many, it’s the true beginning of major steps toward new goals and dreams; a more reality-based “new year” than the first of January.

What is your vision for the new year? The next 5 years? Ten? What legacy you will leave for your life? If you have not thought about these things for a long time, now would be a wonderful time to set aside some quiet time in an evening or on a Sunday afternoon to start thinking, dreaming, and perhaps, praying or meditating about these questions. Here are some tips to get you going:

1) Pick a good time and place. A quiet, relaxed time and peaceful environment free of distractions is likely to be more effective in freeing your best thoughts.

2) Consider Steve Covey’s famous words from the 7 Habits, “Begin with the end in mind.” What would you like people to be saying about you after you are gone?

  • How would you most like to be remembered?
  • What will you have accomplished?
  • What would you most like your family, friends, and professional colleagues to say?
  • Will you leave a legacy of positive leadership in the organizations you have been involved in?
  • Will you be remembered as an inventor or an innovator?
  • Will people say you turned the company around?
  • Will individuals speak of you as someone who has “changed their life”, or been a role model? If so, why?
  • How will you change the world?
  • 3) Write down everything! Whether in a small spiral notebook or a beautiful hand made journal, write down all your thoughts and ideas related to the questions above. Allow yourself to think, pray, or meditate on these questions. Be honest with yourself, but be open and curious to possible surprises.

    4) Revisit the notebook or journal. As you think of additional ideas throughout the next few weeks, keep writing them down in your book.

    5) When you feel that you have been fairly complete, begin creating time-frames. What do you need to do differently in order to create this vision? Where do you want to be in five years? In ten years? By next fall? Group each of these into lists by time frame.

    6) What is your Next Step? Look at your “by next fall” list and break that down into small steps. Decide which step to do first, second, and third and begin moving toward your vision.

    7) Use this list as a checklist to hold your vision close. Make sure that you have the support that you need to keep moving toward it. If you do so, by next fall, you will be there!

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