Posted by: Susan Hendrich | November 17, 2008

Meaningful vision statements

Creating a Power-packed Vision Statement

One key to visualizing success is knowing what that success will look like when you get there. An inspiring vision statement is a vivid description of a desired outcome – it’s a picture of what you want to create. It’s different from a mission statement and works along with a mission statement to help you make choices that are in alignment with your goals.

Research shows that visualizing what you want in great detail will help you achieve it. The brain cannot tell the difference between something that has actually happened and something that is vividly imagined. This tool will help you in developing your vision of success.

Steps

The following vision statement activity is designed to be completed collaboratively. Using the group dynamic to help individual members focus allows for a more casual, less intimidating experience. For a group as large as 30 participants, include the following steps:
1. Label the activity as generically as possible, such as “Reflection for the Year Ahead.” In printed materials and introduction, do not refer to this as an exercise in “Creating a Vision Statement.”
2. Direct everyone to think for a moment about why they, as individuals, chose to join the “world of service.”
3. Hand out a 3″x5″ white index card to each participant. Direct each member to write an overall statement on their card about the impact they intend to work towards over the coming months. This should be restricted to two sentences maximum. Give members five minutes to complete this task.
4. Divide the group into teams of two if you have 10 or less, teams of three if you have 11-15, and teams of four or five otherwise. Hand out a 4″x6″ colored index card to each team. Using the individual cards, have team members work together to create a maximum of two sentences on the “communal” impact they intend to work towards over the coming months. Give teams about 15 minutes to write the final statement. (Some people finish this more quickly.)
5. Ask a volunteer from each team to read that team’s “communal” card aloud twice – so it will really sink in for the listeners.
6. After all cards have been read, lead a discussion on any similarities people heard.
7. Facilitate a 10-minute discussion (or until the group reaches consensus) on the impact members intend to work towards over the coming months. Write notes on flip chart pages as the discussion progresses. At the end of the conversation, write out a clean version.
8. Once you have a one- or two-sentence statement that everyone agrees on, announce that the group has created its vision statement.
9. Facilitator reads the statement to the entire group.

Function
Learning to write a vision statement is so essential that it should be incorporated into the high school curriculum. Vision statements, when done right, have the power to focus intentions and perspectives in personal, passionate ways. The earlier an individual is able to do this, the sooner his life will start to make sense.

Vision statements put on paper what we carry around in our hearts every day. Knowing it’s there is one thing; breaking it down into visual specifics is another. Words on paper have the power to hold us accountable. Here are a couple things to look for when creating a vision statement.

Features
A vision statement depicts a project’s future using all the key elements of your beliefs, values and what you look to accomplish. For example, let’s say you’re starting a company food-bank program. Start by identifying a motto to use as a springboard. A motto for the food bank program could be:

“Our community knows we care.”

This desired impact will be a big part of your vision statement’s objective.

Identification
A well-crafted vision statement will combine the ideal outcome of your project with the value, or belief or passion that fueled it. An example of this might be:

“The ABC Company Food Bank is a community partner offering assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from 3 satellite offices throughout the Tri-County area. We’re here to make sure our community knows ABC Company cares.”

Each identified goal within your statement will be a necessary part of the vision’s outcome and impact. Possible goals for the ABC Company might be:

(1) To ensure our youngest community members have access to healthy foods and supplies through our infant/toddler centers.
(2) To provide our home-bound and elderly community members needed provisions through our Meals On Wheels Initiative.
(3) To meet the educational needs of the young families in our community through health and dietary training seminars.

Benefits
A well-crafted vision statement provides a sense of grounding inside your life experience. It draws from the soul part of your team, connecting you to the very best of what the team represents.

Putting words to the core purpose of your team’s experience provides a sense of direction and force that would otherwise be lacking. The vision statement becomes the heart and reason for your plan.
Important note. This is not a one-time-only process.

This can be revisited as often as necessary. How do you know when you need to revisit it, and create a new vision?
· When things start to feel routine.
· When the actions you are taking on a daily basis are no longer inspired, or when they begin to feel lifeless.
· When nothing is pulling you forward.
That’s the time to invent a new vision.

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Responses

  1. I have heard that top athletes create vision statements for themselves. Cool concept. Thanks for the tips.

    Like

  2. Hey Susan, I like the way you spelled this process out step-by-step. So many times people give the reader big picture instructions, but your tips gives big picture and the breakdown.
    Ron, The Road Map

    Like

  3. This is exactly what i needed for a team exercise. Thanks!

    Like


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