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“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”
Warren Bennis

Of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of definitions this one resonates the most with me. You may like another definition better or may have even crafted your own. But the notion of leaders having a vision is pretty universal one.

So if you are interested in leading or supporting others in developing their leadership creating a vision is a great place to start. Yet where I see many people get tripped up when it comes to leadership actually begins with their interpretation of “vision”. The typical “automatic” interpretation is that a vision is about something monumental like creating world peace. Not true.

A vision can be any possibility you want to make a reality. For example, it could be to have great meetings in your department. It could be to get all of your neighbors to know each other. Of course, it could be loftier than either of those. The important thing is that it must be your vision and you must be inspired enough by it to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Now some of you may be thinking my examples are not “visions”, they’re just goals. Well maybe they are both. Either way I say who cares which it is if it actually gets you to take new actions? We are going for progress here not perfection. Nonetheless to help you choose (or invent) a vision to use as the source for committing Acts of Leadership here’s the criteria I use for a vision.

3 Basic Criteria for a Vision

1. A vision is something that has never been accomplished, at least not in the way you imagine it;
2. It’s not just about you, it makes a difference for others; and
3. You can’t accomplish without enrolling others to participate in some way with you to make it happen.

So where do you start (or help someone else start)?

I suggest picking something you really want to make happen. Don’t get caught up in whether it is too small or too big, or whether it is a vision or “just a goal”. Choose something and write it down in one sentence. Keep it simple.

Then write down 10 things you could do to move one step closer to making that vision real. (By the way, this is a good thing to do even if you already see yourself as a leader. If that’s you try picking something you want to make happen, but you either haven’t taken it on yet or you are stuck.)

Now here’s the really important part…choose one action and do it. Do no be concerned with whether the action you choose is actually an “act of leadership” or not. We’ll be talking about that a lot more.

What is a vision you are going to work on and what is one action you are going to take? Please share your stories of what you did and what happened so we can all learn from them.

Whatever your vision and whatever your action one thing I can promise – we will all learn from it. So please do share. And if you’re stuck share that, too. You are probably not the only one. I look forward to hearing from you.

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