I have never been a “morning person.” Anyone who knows me knows I rely on a strong cup of coffee to help shake the cobwebs.
If you share this “condition” I’ll wager we also share an understanding that being slow to wake isn’t the same as not having a compelling reason to greet each day.
A clear vision and its inexorable link to a mission — to the drive to accomplish something — is the reason to consistently show up and bring the best you’ve got.
The more compelling the vision the more it defines our days and gives rise to intentional acts.
Wherever progress is consistently slow or hard to come by — from matters of personal relationship to professional endeavors — at least part of the problem can be traced to simply going through the motions. The alarm sounds. The day begins. And habit forces one foot in front of the other.
This is the byproduct of a blurry, malleable or nonexistent vision.
This is not to say that the pursuit of a vision eliminates difficult mornings. Nor is it to suggest that there won’t be moments when it feels easier to put in half the effort…or simply call in uninterested.
Life is complicated. Work can be messy. Relationships of all types come with what can feel like unsurmountable challenges.
What this is is an assertion that an audacious vision is one of the few ways to effectively respond to the challenges…to do more than just go through the motions…and to show up with the best you’ve got.
The realization that purpose is a driver of behavior is not new. The author of Proverbs put it this way — “where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Viktor Frankl’s 1946 international best seller Man’s Search For Meaning delves into the essential nature of purpose (and from whence it comes), even in the midst of despair.
For decades employers have had access to data that points to the idea that a clear connection to mission is a critical piece when it comes to job satisfaction. Research repeatedly suggests that understanding the purpose of a role is at least as important as compensation.
Yet the solid touchstones of mission and vision are often viewed as “soft” assets at best…and are relegated to static pronouncements on websites.
Meanwhile, the reasons for the decisions we make and the actions we take reside in the vision we decide to embrace. When that vision is engaging, compelling and clear, each decision or action moves us ever closer to what in our guts we envision as possible.
When the vision is ill defined the purpose of today’s to-do list is lost in a disorienting fog. Merely showing up becomes a chore.
Check Your Vision
So what gets you up in the morning?
What animates your day? What inspires you to fight through any fog? Where does the meaning come from…even in challenging times?
There is not one “right” answer to these questions. The view of what might be is an intensely personal thing. But there had better be an answer. In the absence of a vision that moves you there isn’t enough coffee in the world to bring inspiration to each new challenge.
For leaders of teams, companies and firms, when productivity trails projections, when silos struggle to align, and — this is a big one — when you’re unable to spot tomorrow’s leaders, ask these three questions.
- Is the vision of what might be (and what is at stake) compelling?
- Is everyone crystal clear about how their role connects to the vision?
- If the answer to the first two questions is “yes,” and progress is still slow, it is time to ask (a) whether the vision is shared and (b) whether you have the right people in place.
A Reason To Rise And Shine
This isn’t going to replace the need for a cup of joe or whatever ritual you use to jumpstart the morning; but a shared vision combined with intentional reminders of the resulting future will go a long way toward providing the sense of purpose we all seek.
And whether we’re talking personal relationships or commercial adventure, nothing generates a reason to rise, shine and show up more than purpose.
(Note: I have a new keynote on the Dynamism of Shared Vision. If you’d like information, shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.)