Management is termed as the process which starts from planning and moves to organizing, leading and controlling (Robbins (2008).). The management is a vast concept and can be viewed from many prospectives; the management is generally referred with Marketing Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management and Operations Management etc.
One of the traits of leaders is vision that is having a dream for future scenario; the vision statement is present at the profile of every company. It is so important for individuals, groups and corporations that the success and growth is not possible without a vision.
It is important to have a vision but it is more critical to manage it. Vision management means managing the vision to achieve the desired outcome. Vision management includes all the activities of planning, organizing, leading and controlling.
It is said, “Leaders do the right things and managers do the things right.” Leaders have a vision for future scenario to bring a change to improve a situation. But how a change will come? How a situation will be improved? The answers to these questions come from the concept of vision management. With vision management activities, actions are taken to move the things into favorable situations in order to achieve the vision.
Let’s look at the each step in detail.
It is generally said that management starts with planning (Robbins, 2008), but in real situation management starts with a vision, if there is no vision, for which the management activities will take place? It is first thing after which all other actions take place. Like in the organizations, whenever the change occurs, it comes from the top management. Through the vision of the top management and determination to manage the vision, market position of the organizations can be changed. There are lot of examples in Pakistan, like “niralla sweets”, it was started as a very small business now through the vision; it is now a million dollars business. Vision is given by leaders who want to bring change or improve the situation or change the attitude of the people. When people rather mangers have vision, they start other activities to achieve it.
The vision is not always realistic; it is made realistic through vision management. ( Maaz Syed)
After the vision, planning is done about how to achieve it, what is required to make the situation in favor, what resources are required to achieve the vision and what should be eliminated.
Planning for resources is very important but it is also critical to eliminate or minimize unfavorable circumstances, because if these are not minimized, even the abundant resource will not help in achieving the favorable results. Planning includes planning of physical resources, financial resources and human resources (Robbins,2008). Planning is very important after having a vision, because if planning is dumb than all is not well; even best vision and affluent resources will not be useful if there is poor or dumb planning.
Planning is very important activity and we all are involved in planning in our daily life, the planning can be short-term or long-term. In Pakistan the planning is generally not given the importance it deserves; especially in public sector because there is no vision so there is no planning.
Planning is always made by keeping vision in mind, during planning there should be minimum deviation from the vision; vision should be always in mind to make the planning.
Organizing comes next to planning. Organizing refers to organizing the physical, financial and human resources. It is very critical to make the right use of resources.
Organizing is linked with vision, in vision management, organizing not just mean organizing resources it also means organizing the series of events that will direct the situation in the favor of vision.
Organizing is also very important for vision management; unless resources and scenarios are not organized the vision cannot be achieved, it is the task of managers to organize and make the aisle clear without any obstruction.
The vision is well-managed when every thing is organized and there is no hurdle or obstruction in the way, it does not mean that there should be no problem; it means that when there comes any problem, the managers solve the problem immediately and turn the situation in favor to carry out the vision. The independence of Pakistan in 1947 is a bright example of vision management. Quaid-i-Azam had vision and the party members (managers) helped in achieving it, the struggle for independence is a bright example of vision management. We can take this example and implement the lessons in businesses, to achieve a certain position in market, hard work, efforts, competencies, determined people and above all a vision is required.
Leading comes next to organizing in vision management. Leading means leading the people i.e. make people behave and work according to the plan in order to achieve it. The concept of behavior modification is important in leading the vision.
Leading the people includes changing behavior of people and make use of their knowledge, skills and abilities in order to achieve the desired outcome. The people use their knowledge and skills and work for the vision which is provided by leaders thus are very critical to vision management. It should be kept in mind that the leaders have vision, they communicate it to the people, but it is achieved by people. The people work according to plan and thus help in achieving the vision. Vision management is not possible without people and thus vision cannot be achieved without people.
Leader gives directions and vision and people follow the vision to achieve the leader’s vision and goal. Even competent and most intelligent people cannot work at full capacity unless they have clear direction and a vision to follow. The example of ©Microsoft is an example, the company is losing its market position because of low innovation, the people are same, there working has affected the reason is that the company’s vision in obsolete now and the workforce do not have any vision to follow which has caused company to lose its market position. This shows that vision is very important for the success of the companies.
Controlling is considered as final activity in management (Robbins (2008.).) and thus it is final activity in vision management.
In vision management just like a project, the controlling is a continuous activity and it remains throughout the process of vision management.
In vision management, controlling refers to the controlling of every single step that nothing should deviate from the vision. Controlling also refers to controlling the physical resources, finance and behaviors of people so that not a single thing should deviate from the vision.
Controlling is the job of leaders and the managers to whom the authority is dedicated by the leader.
Vision management is thus the combination of various management activities which leads to the achievement of vision provided by leaders. Vision management is very important and present every where but it has not been given due consideration. Awareness to vision management will helps the organizations to improve their operations and working environment to better achieve the company’s vision.
A vision statement can be defined as, “An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action” (businessdictionary.com). Vision has to do with leaders and organizations’ ability to see what they want to accomplish. It is like building a house: the house plan and a drawing of the house show what the finished product will look like. When the house is completed, it is expected that it will look essentially like the plan and the drawing. There may be cosmetic changes, but there will be no major differences.
There can be no ambiguity about the vision. Too many leaders have fuzzy vision, but obscurity in the vision will not encourage and mobilize others. A vision is not something abstract: it is a clear picture of what the organization can realistically accomplish. When explaining the vision, leaders must word the vision in simple terms. It is not a theological treatise or an academic paper. What are we looking to achieve? By the time we’re finished explaining, everyone should be able to see where we are going. To that end, leaders must solicit questions. In casting the vision, we will not communicate all the details (that’s a matter of strategic planning), but by responding to questions we ensure that people truly understand what we are aiming for.
Purpose is the why; vision is the what; goal is the how. As we continue to communicate the vision, we will address these three areas. Purpose is important: we have to know why we’re doing what we’re doing, or else vision is an exercise in futility. Goals are the intentional steps that we have to take to realize the vision. Without such steps, vision is simply a dream, an ethereal idea that dissipates when we wake up to reality.
In order to communicate the vision we have to thoroughly think it out. Good ideas don’t become vision until we submit to this process. There are many things that we have to think about. We need to determine what resources are needed and whether we can access those resources. We have to think about the end result or results. We have to think about sustainability and continuity, unless the vision is simply for a onetime event. We have to think about the potential benefits and weigh them against the disadvantages. We must also consider the time frame. When we communicate the vision to others, they may be involved in the thinking process, but they also want to know that we have thought things through. It is first our vision before it becomes theirs.
If the vision is somewhat new to the organization, our core leaders can assess the clarity of the vision. It is a mistake to share the vision with our subordinates before sharing it with our fellow leaders. Some leaders in their zeal bypass their leadership team and tell the world what they intend to do. This can foster serious fallout and is premature. Our core leaders can help us in drafting the vision, reworking and refining it, until it is fully mature and ready to be presented to the rest of the organization.
Leaders must be creative in communicating the vision. Presenting the vision in the same way can bore people. Contemporary society, for good or for bad, is accustomed to many types of media: different styles appeal to different people. Additionally, the leader doesn’t have to be the only one who communicates the vision – main influencers can also share the vision. This allows influencers to take ownership of the vision, and it also allows the leaders to work through others, since no one leader can connect with everyone. Creativity involves knowing the people in your organization and what appeals to them.
The vision must be communicated continually. Some leaders make the mistake of thinking that people have grasped the vision when it has been presented once or a few times. Vision statements can be included in all the publications and correspondence of the organization: letters, emails, banners, posters are some of the tools that can be used. Leaders should speak on the vision at least once a month. This allows people to take ownership of the vision, to know and understand what the vision involves. Meetings and promotions can be used to communicate the vision. Once the vision is being continually communicated, people can connect their actions to the vision. They can assess whether what they are doing facilitates the realization of the vision.
Leaders must connect the past to the present and to the future. Connecting with the past brings about a sense of continuity: it helps people that were with the organization for a while feel a part of. Newer people need to understand and appreciate the organization’s history. Present actions determine the momentum of the vision. The present is critical: the past is unchangeable but the present is not. We have to be intentional in what we do – present actions lay the foundation for the future: an ability to focus on the present separates the movers from the dreamers. Without a vision for the future we can end up being activity driven, just doing things with no real objective in mind. The future has to do with what we hope to accomplish.
Leaders must be able to connect with the people in both communicating and realizing the vision. There must be relationship: first with the primary influencers and leaders then with others in the organization. This happens by spending time with them and listening to them. Connecting with people involves having a warm and friendly disposition. When leaders speak they can connect through using illustrations, stories, anecdotes, analogies that are familiar and loved by the people and appropriate humor. They can connect by speaking in a reasonable amount of time (too short or too long is ineffective), dealing with what’s on people’s heart, speaking in inclusive terms “we,” and calling people to and believing in their greatness. Leaders have to communicate concern for people more than for an agenda.
One of the most frustrating things in life is to be part of an organization with no vision. You reflect on the years that you’ve been there and realize that the organization has made no real progress. This is a leadership problem. Leaders must take the time to develop vision and must also evaluate to make sure that the vision is being realized. Time and resources are limited and must be strategically used to realize vision.
Hermann Hesse wrote: “Most people are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them; they have within themselves their guide and path.” We get the importance of his statement, and he’s right that each of us has our guide and path within us; but if you feel you’re drifting along in life without a vision and feel unsure what to do about this, his statement might cause you to judge yourself. I want to help you shift this. And about having one defined path, what if that’s not about doing but is about being, say, joyful, instead? Does that shift your energy about this even a little?
Wallace Wattles said: “You must form a clear and definite mental picture of what you want; you cannot transmit an idea unless you have it yourself.” Wattles is right as well; however, the thought of getting to this clear mental picture is intimidating for a number of people. They concern themselves with questions like: What if they pick the wrong vision? What if by picking a vision, they limit themselves? What if their vision is too large or too small? What will others think about their vision, or how might they judge it?
The first thing I ask you to do is allow that if the thought of coming up with a vision for your life makes you uncomfortable in any way, we want to shift how you think about this so you can feel better about it, because it is likely your beliefs about this that hold you back. For instance, rather than think about your Vision For All Time, think about the vision of your life for the next year, or the next six months, or next month, or next week instead, to get into practice. This takes the pressure off of having to come up with The Grand Vision. And that’s another thing you want to let go of: what anyone else will think about your vision; that your vision has to impress others or have their approval or it won’t be worthwhile-not that you have to tell anyone. In fact, practice self-restraint for as long as needed or desired about this: keep your vision silent and sacred.
One thing that may affect your ability to come up with a vision, whatever time-period you now want it to cover, is believing it has to be practical (so you can appease others or your ego-aspect). Practical isn’t necessarily magical. I recall going to a car dealership years back. I didn’t like anything about that experience. When the saleswoman came back from having “the talk” with her manager about what kind of “deal” they could make for me, I told her no. She asked what kind of deal I was looking for, and I told the uncensored truth: “I want an attractive car with all the bells and whistles, and I don’t want to pay a penny for it.” And I meant it. She was, of course, shocked and told me that was unrealistic. I was completely serene and even joyful as I smiled and said goodbye and left. Within several months, I was driving a sporty Lexus with all the bells and whistles, and doing so without a penny ever coming out of pocket. I share this example so you can see that sometimes being practical can stand in your way. The Universe has an interesting way of filling our orders once we know and state what we want-fearlessly-at least to ourselves, then get out of the way.
Another thing that blocks creating a vision for your life is attempting to do this from a feeling of desperately needing to change or fix your life. Desperation is not the energy you want flowing through you when you consider your vision. For one thing, you aren’t thinking clearly when you feel desperate for change. Your energy is focused in the opposite direction at such a time, like on lack, frustration, fear, and so on. Before you sit down to work with your vision, you want to take some deep breaths to relax your body and mind. You want to connect with the infinite love of Source, to relax your emotions and stimulate your spiritual connection to the abundance and flow that Source has made available for you to receive, as soon as you allow yourself to do so. When feeling desperate, you block alignment of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy with your vision.
Joseph Campbell said: “We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about.” Yes! You see, one thing that blocks people from crafting a vision, among the other blocks I’ve already mentioned, is they get so focused on Doing that they forget to focus on Being first.
I know it’s recommended that you get specific when you craft a vision, but this may be so intimidating that you just abandon the idea of crafting one. Note: A vision for your life is NOT meant to be the same as a goals list and the steps to reach goals. So, try this: Write generalized specifics. What I mean is, for example, instead of coming up with a fixed number of the amount of money you want to receive each month, state that you want money to come to you from Source’s infinite resources in the amount that is three times (or more) than what your actual monthly expenses currently are-or whatever feels realistic and possible at this time. Don’t impinge on your alignment with an amount your subconscious doesn’t believe is even in the realm of possibility. Head and heart alignment is important here. As you move forward, you can always increase this. And, instead of stating the work you do in your vision, state that you do work that you love and enjoy and find fulfilling, if work is part of your vision. This suggestion to be generalized-specific is to help you get into practice of allowing yourself to have a vision for your life. When you get comfortable with this process, and what I explain from here on, then you might want to craft a vision that is more specific, or, instead, also craft a goals list.
Do a rough draft of your vision, so you get started. Consider it an exercise only, so you ease up on yourself about this. Let this draft be more like play. Hand-write your draft, and write it as though it’s happening now. Let how you want to feel about your life assist you with this draft. Remember, let go of being practical, of impressing anyone or needing anyone’s approval. Allow yourself the right to adjust anything in your vision that you feel the need or desire to adjust. This is for you and only you. It’s like a garment you create for yourself: you must tailor it to fit you; you must love the color, texture, and feel of it. You must feel terrific when you put it on. It must feel exciting and empowering to wear it.
When you play with your draft vision, if you feel the need to be practical, go ahead and write out a practical one. Then, allow yourself to write one where practical isn’t a factor. Again: Practical isn’t necessarily magical. So if it will help you, create one draft titled My Practical Vision and another titled My Magical Vision, and cut loose with this one. What time do you want to wake in the morning, or what kind of schedule flexibility is desired? What do you want your day and what you do with it to feel like? How do you want to feel about your day and life when you go to sleep at night? How do you want to feel about your financial matters, secure or serene? And so on, with anything you want to add.
Remember: Write both versions in present tense, as though each vision aspect is already happening. Then read each vision in turn. After you read the practical version, add a paragraph about how it makes you feel when you read it and how it affects your energy; do the same after you read the magical version. Which one excites you? Which one feels like your right fit? Keep in mind that a magical vision will have practical aspects appear to support it. So don’t be afraid of writing down what you really want.
Once you decide on a draft vision, read your vision aloud to yourself every morning and evening for the first seven days. Each following week, spend fifteen or so minutes once a week to read your vision and feel it, believe it, trust it, and adjust it in whatever way feels right to you, because you are always changing and growing. Allow your vision to change and grow as well. Each time you make major adjustments to your vision, repeat the seven-day morning and night read-aloud process so you really get your vision into your energy field and mindset.
Release the HOW. That’s up to the Universe (like my car example), but pay attention to inspirations that lead you to actions then follow through. You can also use your vision to verify that any ideas or opportunities that show up in your mind or life as actions to take actually match your vision, so your ego-aspect doesn’t lead you astray, which it often does, as it tends to operate from desperation and fear. It’s better to be still and wait for an inspiration you know is aligned with you and your vision than to rush into action that uses your time, energy, and other resources in spinning-your-wheels activities. Never confuse activity with productivity. Inspired action is what you want to follow, and these generally come to you when you’re being quiet or still or doing something unrelated.
How do you want to feel about your vision? What feelings, thoughts, and self-talk do you need to support your vision? What would your vision need to include for you to feel joyful, enthused, fulfilled, excited, confident, comfortable being you, and-whole? Keep in mind that this is for the time-period you’ve decided it’s for, whether it’s for the rest of your life, the next year, month, or week. Take some time to craft your vision as described here. Then read it and ask yourself how much of your vision you are doing or living now and perhaps don’t realize it. This may, or may not, surprise you.
Don’t rush crafting your vision. It’s important enough to take the time you need, but don’t put it off either or try to write the “perfect” draft the first time. It may take a few or several tries for you to feel comfortable enough to allow yourself to write a more magical vision. And keep in mind that you want to allow the flexibility to adjust your vision as you realize more of what you really want and want to feel and allow yourself to include these in your vision.
Once your draft vision is written and it feels right, don’t try to rush it or force it into your experience. Watch for signs of it taking form in your life. Watch for inspired ideas. Allow yourself to love and accept and approve of you so you allow yourself to receive your vision as your experience. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Many leaders have great visions and dreams for themselves and their organizations but after a while they realize that they are not moving ahead. People do not buy into their vision and eventually they give up and their visions and dreams die! Why?
The reason is that they don’t have any strategy for keeping their vision alive. Having a strategy for demonstrating your vision, communicating it with others, monitoring the progress toward fulfilling the vision and the buy-in ratio, and finding ways to energize, motivate, and inspire more people to buy into the vision and help you and the organization fulfill the vision is necessary.
Vision Alive is a tool that can help you keep your vision alive. Vision Alive has four components: vision poster, vision caster, vision meter, and vision energizer.
Vision poster simply demonstrates your vision on a poster. It is like painting your vision for others to see. Visual presentation is different from verbal presentation. When you show people a vivid picture of where you want to take them rather than just talking about it the impact would be bigger and the odds of getting there are much more. On the other hand when people continuously see something with their physical eyes they connect better and the image is carved in their subconscious mind to achieve it.
To prepare a vision poster you can do the following:
• Write down your powerful vision statement
• Identify keywords/key phrases of your vision statement
• Visualize a powerful and positive image of the future when you fulfill and live the vision
• Visualize the keywords and key phrases and link them to your mental picture of the vision
• With these mental images in mind, draw/paint what you have in mind (you may also write down some details of about your mental images)
• Have a creative painter (or graphic designer) to professionally paint what you have drawn and include the details of what you have written about your mental images in the painting
• Review the draft of your vision poster and make sure it clearly, powerfully, and positively demonstrates your vision (don’t forget to have your vision statement written on your vision poster as well)
• Revise, if necessary, and share your vision poster with other visionary leaders in your organization for their input
• Finalize your vision poster
Vision caster is all about communicating your vision. As mentioned earlier, no matter how great your vision, if you cannot communicate it properly and effectively you most probably will not fulfill it. Vision Caster is combination of ways through which you communicate your vision to people.
Here are some ways by which you can cast your vision:
Posting your vision poster: you can prepare high quality color prints of your vision poster and post them in various locations so that people can see and connect with it all the time. This is a powerful method of communicating your vision.
Video: Another powerful way of communicating your vision to others is through videos. You can talk about your vision and how to achieve it and have it video recorded. Remember that the way you present yourself through video is very important. I highly recommend that you memorize what you want to talk about in a video rather than reading from notes. When you read your notes you cannot connect with your audience effectively. In videos you need to have effective eye contact, hand gestures, vocal variety, and body language. When you are energized and passionate about your vision this can be felt by those who watch you.
Audio: You can also communicate your vision with others through audio recordings. Since audio recordings do not typically involve any visual aids, you need to transmit your passion through your voice. The tone of your voice, your vocal variety, effective pauses, your pace, and clarity of your language are key factors in effective communication of your vision through audio. Please note that it is important for people to hear your voice rather than someone else’s when communicating the vision.
Face-to-face meetings: You need to remind people of the vision during face-to-face meetings. This is one of the best and most effective ways because people can directly hear it from you live. However, due to busy schedules this way of communication does not happen often these days. Nevertheless, you should make your best to communicate it to top leaders in your organization directly and remind them to communicate that face-to-face with their teams and so on.
Annual events: Annual employee meetings or events are customary in organizations. In annual meetings, you get a chance to have a speech regarding the past or current year and the year ahead. This is a great opportunity to make an impact by communicating your vision with all the employees directly and answer their questions.
It is crucial that you are well prepared. Try not to read from your notes. If you believe in your vision and have a clear picture of where you want your organization and your people to be, you do not need to read your notes. Unfortunately, many leaders fail to communicate properly with their people in such important occasions. Showing power point slides or talking about numbers only is not the right way. You need to make an impact. You need to motivate people and above all you need to inspire them. Speeches are great ways to have people buy into your vision and act toward achieving goals and dreams. If you don’t know how, you’d better to take a speech delivery class or at least become a Toastmasters member.
Trainings: By providing some training to employees on how they can help in fulfilling the organization’s vision and the benefits and rewards of living the vision, you take a big step toward success. The more people you have on board, the bigger the odds of achieving the vision.
During orientation sessions for new hires a short training on organization’s vision, how to help in fulfilling the vision, and the expectations from the management regarding the vision is necessary. If you cannot be present yourself, at least a short yet powerful video message by you in which you clearly mention the vision, the importance of fulfilling it, the benefits of living it, and your minimum expectations from employees is a must.
Letters: Once in a while you can write a letter to employees, thank them for their achievements toward fulfilling the vision, and encourage them to do better. You remind them of the benefits of achieving the vision so that they become energized. Note that benefits should be more related to them and not to you or the profit of the organization. You need to answer “What is in it for me?” question.
Greeting cards: Special occasion greeting cards can be great tools for reminding people of the vision and the importance of fulfilling it. Don’t forget the power of small. Sending greeting cards may seem a small act but the impact could be very powerful especially these days that people are fed up with lots emails. A greeting card in which you simply say “thank you” and energize the receivers with a short note regarding the vision and their role in achieving it shows people that you care. When people know that you care, they take care of you and your vision in return.
Do you monitor your progress toward achieving the vision? If not, then how do you know that you are on the right track? How do you know that your people are on board? If you think that the numbers reflect that you may be wrong. Sometimes business looks good from outside but is being destroyed from inside. You always need to get feedback from people on how you are doing regarding the vision and its importance to people.
Vision Meter includes ways in determining your progress toward fulfilling the vision. Short surveys, monthly quizzes, interviews, regular verbal and written feedbacks, suggestion box, and vision score cards are among various ways that you can measure and monitor your progress and make sure your organization is on the right track toward the vision.
The output of Vision Meter process can help you in identifying the gaps and finding ways to fill those gaps. You may also need to adjust your vision, update your expectations, change your communication style, etc in order to get back on track toward success.
Vision Energizer is a process for energizing yourself and others to overcome the challenges along the way toward achieving the vision. If people are not motivated enough to face the changes and challenges that are part of powerful visions, they may not be able to stay on track for long and eventually they may give up and leave your leadership boat. Therefore, it is crucial to have strategies for energizing people to face all the challenges with enthusiasm and motivation.
Start with the self: when you are passionate and enthusiastic about and connected with the vision and people, you can energize them.
Be present: People look at you as their leader especially in tough times. Be always present and serve people. When you are present, they trust you and become motivated to help you.
Use affirmations: Positive affirmations that are practiced daily and demonstrated on people’s desks or bulletin boards are great tools in keeping people energized and motivated.
Vision celebration day: Celebrating achievements and appreciating those who have made a difference even though small toward fulfilling the vision along with energizing activities and games, prizes, inspiring and motivating speeches, and the way forward can be part of a special event called vision celebration day.
In sum, by having a vision poster to paint your dream for your people, communicating your vision in various ways to convey the importance of fulfilling the vision, monitoring your progress toward fulfilling the vision, and motivating and energizing your people to hold on to the vision and overcome the challenges along the way, you can keep your vision alive and thrive in both your professional and personal lives with people.
Then the Lord answered me and said, record the vision and make it plain upon tables that he may run that reads it…” Habakkuk 2:2
Habakkuk 2:2 is an often quoted scripture when a ministry or church desires to move forward with a corporate vision. Yearlong vision campaigns have been developed and implemented connected to this verse. Conferences and seminars have been created with this verse as the main theme.
I have witnessed people getting excited when they hear this verse being proclaimed by a pastor or teacher. They will shout, give their neighbors high fives and dance around the sanctuary with great enthusiasm upon the declaration of this word. There have been songs and books written about Habakkuk 2:2. Needless to say, this is a very popular verse when it comes to talking about writing a vision.
It is sad to report that after hearing this powerful verse proclaimed many people still have not made the effort or taken the time to write their personal and/or family vision. It sounds inspiring and motivating to hear a teacher or preacher proclaiming, “Write the vision and make it plain…” However, I have come to discover that it takes more than just an inspirational message or weekend seminar about vision. It takes a concentrated effort to take the time to write your vision and an unwavering commitment to implement it.
Habakkuk was perplexed about the situation that was happening around him. He could not understand why God was doing the things the way He was doing. He was confused with God’s direction. His confusion led him to ask Him two key questions. “How long O Lord will I call for help and you will not hear?” “How can you use the Babylonians who are more sinful than we are to punish us?” Habakkuk needed some real answers to his questions and God was the only one who could provide the answers he needed.
I believe now is the time to unlock the power of your vision. After spending quality time studying and meditating on Habakkuk 2:1-4, I extrapolated seven keys to unlocking the power of your vision. I believe that if you implement these seven keys your vision will have a powerful impact on your family, friends, community, city, country and ultimately the world.
Key# 1 -Vision is revealed to the person in the position to listen.
For you to unlock the power of your vision from God you must first reside in your personal watchtower to listen for His directions. In ancient times, the watchtower was built on city walls so watchmen could see enemies or messengers approaching their city while they were at a distance. From the watchtower, they could see the enemy approaching and alert the people in enough time to prepare for battle. The watchman and watchtower were used by the prophets to emphasize an attitude of expectation. Habakkuk went to his personal watchtower expecting to hear from God. He knew that this was the place and time to listen to how God was going to answer his perplexing questions.
Do you have a personal watchtower that you can go to hear from God? Wherever your watchtower may be; a room in the basement, the living room after everyone is asleep, an early morning walk or a quiet place in the park, you have to get alone with God. You need to make sure your time alone with Him is uninterrupted. When you go to your watchtower you need to put away your mobile devices, turn off the television, close your Facebook page and tell your family and friends not to disturb you unless it is a serious emergency.
Your daily time in your personal watchtower is your time to meet with God and hear His directions. You cannot afford to have any distractions. When you go to your watchtower you will need to take with you some tools; a bible to read and study what He has to say, I prefer the New King James Version or the New American Standard Bible. You will need a pen and paper or a journal to record what He speaks into your life. You can also take your Vision Impact Workbook to record the answers He will give to you to form your personal and family vision statement. The last thing you will need to bring is an open and receptive ear to listen to His guidance.
When you come to God in your watchtower, you do not have to come with any games or gimmicks. You do not have to have the right words to say or a special prayer formula. You do not have to have all your ducks in a row or all the correct answers. You can come to Him in an honest, humble and specific way to let Him know what is on your heart and mind and the God of the universe will respond with His directions for you.
Key# 2 – Vision must be written down.
You need a clear guiding vision that belongs to you and directs your life. You cannot be valuable to God’s ultimate plan if you do not know and understand your personal vision. Whether you are young, old, married, single, middle-aged, black or white, if you do not have a clearly written vision plan you can become easily distracted, discouraged or discontented by the circumstances of life.
We learned from the first key that you have to get alone with God in your personal watchtower to hear from Him. Habakkuk received a vision from God in his watchtower of what would eventually happen to the Babylonians. He did not instruct Habakkuk to just think, pray and talk about the vision, but He instructed him to write the vision He was about to reveal. God knew that a written vision would solidify it in the people’s hearts and minds.
God’s vision is not based upon what you have or do not have. It does not matter what others say or do not say. It does not matter how much money you have or do not have. It does not matter if you are the CEO or the janitor. God may give you a vision that you may not totally understand everything that He is revealing to you; it may not make much sense, but write it down anyway. What you write down may not match your current situation. What you write down may seem unachievable. What you write down may look crazy to others and even you. It may have you even second-guessing your abilities and talents.
You have to believe that if God said it you can take it to the bank and cash it. He may give you a plan to pay off your debt, but you are broke. He may give you a plan for a business, but you do not have the necessary experience. He may give you a plan for a successful marriage, but you are still single. Whatever He reveals to you write it down and start moving towards it.
Today is the right day to begin to write your personal and/or family vision statement. Your vision statement is what God has revealed to you and not what you have gotten from someone’s insight, book or seminar. I encourage you to write your vision in explicit details. Do not leave anything out that He reveals because you feel inadequate or incapable by the enormity of the vision. Please know that God’s vision will be bigger than what you can do or handle in your own strength. His vision can be intimidating. It can make you feel inept and look foolish. Your abilities and skills can look insufficient. But, whatever he reveals to you know that it is your vision plan to put into action.
Key# 3 – Vision must be made plain.
After you have spent the necessary time, writing the vision God has revealed to you, you need to make sure it is in plain, simple to understand language. You want your vision so plain that a fifth grader can understand it. I have read complex and convoluted vision statements that have left the people assigned to it confused and discouraged because it lacked clear direction. They were well written statements with impressive and inspirational words and phrases, but lacked the real direction to motivate people to move.
The vision statements were so complicated that the individual with the vision could not really explain it in a way that others could grasp it and run with it. If you have a vision that is not easily grasped by the people connected to it, they will not follow it and will end up creating an alternate vision to follow.
When Habakkuk received the vision from God, he wrote it in terms that could be understood by all the Israelites and future generations. The vision that he wrote is recorded in scriptures to give us a roadmap on how to write a vision statement that is plain and understandable by all who reads it. Your written vision should be so plain that it can be understood throughout your family generations. When your great-great-great grandchildren read your vision, they should be able to plainly understand it and continue to run with it.
We can sometimes over complicate things because we either think we are smarter than we actually are or we are trying to impress others. A vision that is written in plain understandable language will energize and ignite an excitement in everyone that is connected to it and they will run with it in eager anticipation.
Key# 4 – Vision must be posted.
If you walk into the entrance of some companies and ministries, you will see a posted vision statement. This posted vision statement gives the direction for their organization. Everyone that enters the company or ministry knows that there is a clear and definite direction. Most of all, their posted vision statement gives guidance and unifies everyone that is associated with them. This is very important because it puts everyone on the same page. No one is left in the dark about the direction of the organization.
I believe just as a business or ministry posts their vision statement, you need to have a visibly posted vision statement to keep you and everyone connected to it on the same page. When everyone is on the same page, it brings a greater level of responsibility and accountability.
Once you have your written vision in plain understandable terminology, it is now time to post it. I suggest typing it on a one page summary sheet that you can frame. Once you frame your vision statement, place it in an ideal location that is visible for you to see every day or if it is a family vision place it in a prominent place where your entire family can see it.
Use it as a screen saver on your computer or mobile device. Write your vision on an index card, have it laminated and carry it in your wallet or purse. Post it on your refrigerator so that every time you or someone opens it they will see the vision. Wherever you need to, post your vision. Your posted vision statement is your constant reminder of what is possible in your life and/or family if you follow God’s directions. It will become your motivator to live forward whenever you are discouraged, distracted or disappointed by life.
Key# 5 – Vision overcomes obstacles.
You have to be aware that there will be obstacles in your life that will try to derail you from living your vision. Do not think because God has given you a clear guiding vision that everything is going to be smooth sailing. You are going to encounter some steep challenges and you will hit some unforeseeable turbulence. You will have days that you want to throw in the towel and walk away from everything.
The enemy will use every tactic in his arsenal to detour your destiny. He will use your friends, family, coworkers and even yourself against you. His ultimate job is to steal, kill and destroy your vision. (John 10:10) He will speak into your ear things like, “Don’t you know where you come from? No one is going to listen to you. Why try and do this because you failed the last time?”
The enemy wants you to walk away from your commitments. He wants you to live inconsistently to your purpose. He knows if he can keep you distracted, discouraged and defeated from living your vision’s full potential then you will not have the impact in your family, community and city the way God designed for you to have.
Not only will the enemy present obstacles to your vision, but others will try to dissuade you from advancing forward. They will say things like, “How are you going to accomplish that with your education or skill set. That has never been done before in your family. Don’t you know you are too old or young to make that happen?” Do not let what others say determine your destiny. Do not let them talk you out of what God has for you. I suggest you turn a death ear to their negative words and focus on your vision.
I believe the major obstacle that you will have to overcome is yourself. I have learned that you and I will talk ourselves out of what God has shown us is possible. We will say what we can’t do instead of saying, “I can do everything that God has designed me to do”. We will say that we can’t accomplish something because we don’t have the right background or experience. Instead, we need to say, “I am going to learn and do what I need to and God will take care of the rest”.
When fear and worry tries to take over you need to say with assurance that, “God did not give me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). When you turn your attention to the direction of your vision instead of your problems, you can walk in the assurance that you can have the victory.
I want you to know without any doubt that your life was designed to be motivated and fueled by God’s vision. You do not have to run and hide from life’s challenges. You do not have to live a mediocre existence. You do not have to down play who you are. You can pursue your vision with an aggressive offensive attack that will give you strength and ability to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way.
Key# 6 – Vision will manifest itself in God’s time.
Habakkuk was told to wait patiently for the vision. God had revealed to him that He was going to use the wicked Babylonians to punish Judah. He was going to allow the Babylonians to rule for a season, but in due time they would be punished for their wickedness. Habakkuk teaches us the all-important virtue of waiting.
God desires for us to know through Habakkuk’s vision that we are to cherish our waiting period. Though it may take a while before your vision unfolds, you are to use the waiting period as a time to grow in knowledge and walk in wisdom. Your waiting period is your proving ground to make the necessary preparation you need because when your vision begins to manifest itself, you want to be ready to operate in it.
Please do not rush your vision. Be patient. When you make your own plans to carry out, you force those plans into your own timetable and can possibly delay your destiny. Vision manifests when God determines the time. When the time is right, God will begin to unveil your vision progressively. I know from experience sometimes it isn’t easy to be patient while you are waiting. You see the possibilities, but it seems as if you are moving in molasses.
You may have written your vision plan in explicit details. You may have been following it to the letter, but it seems nothing is working out. It seems the more you work towards your vision the more difficult it gets. The more attacks you encounter. The more aggravated and frustrated you become. You may get to the point that you just want to bail out. You want to tell God, He can have this vision because it isn’t worth the time and energy.
Whether it is going back to school, exercising more days a week, turning off the television and reading or learning a new area at work, you must make the necessary preparation to bring your vision forth. You are going to have to work on your vision when others are playing, sleeping and having a good time. You are going to have to make some sacrifices that are going to cost you something in the short term, but hang in there because your release is coming soon. You cannot quit when your vision journey becomes a little uncomfortable and the road gets bumpy just know that the finish line is right in front of you.
Your revealed vision will inspire you to look beyond your waiting process and see your future promise. Now when I talk about waiting, I am not talking about waiting like at a bus stop. At a bus stop, you just stand waiting on the next bus to arrive. When I talk about waiting, I am talking about waiting like a server at a restaurant. A good server is constantly moving taken care of the customers that he is responsible for. If he wants a good tip, he will make sure every table he is responsible for is properly served. He doesn’t stop making sure their drinks are filled and the food is properly prepared. He continues to provide excellent service until the customers leave.
The server anticipates at the end of the meal if he has provided superb service he knows he stands a great chance of getting an excellent tip. However, even if he doesn’t get the tip he thinks he deserves; when the next customer comes he gives the same excellent service because he still anticipates a good tip. Just as a server is anticipating a good tip from the excellent service he gives, it is crucial that we serve in excellence anticipating to receive our vision rewards in this present life and the life to come.
Key#7 – Vision must be lived by faith.
Habakkuk had to have total faith in the vision that God was revealing to him. He was to declare to the people that the God of the universe would spare them from the ruthless reign of the Babylonians. God assured him that the wicked Babylonians who trusted in their abilities and strengths would eventually have a great fall. (Habakkuk 2:5-20) Habakkuk’s job was to keep encouraging the people to live by faith while they waited patiently for the vision to come to pass.
If you operate your vision by sight, you will always see the potential problems and pain that may surface. Seeing your problems and pain from a physical visual viewpoint may cause you to deviate from pursuing after your vision. You may see that your month is more than your money. You may experience friends that bail out on you who said they had your back. You may witness the economy and job market improving for others, but not you. The things you physically see may have blurred your vision. Living by physical sight has the potential to delay or destroy your vision progress. Life can be full of discouraging and depressing circumstances that can keep you living life on the sidelines, but when you learn to live by faith, you can move from the sidelines to playing in the game.
Remember that one definition of vision is seeing farther than your physical eyes can see. It was hard for the people of Judah to see their deliverance when the Babylonians were ruthlessly reigning and ruling over them. How could they take hold of the vision of eventual victory when they were encountering tremendous defeat from their enemy? The only way for them to see victory was through the eyes of faith. If you are enduring difficult times and have become discouraged; if you have lost the desire for your vision due to constant struggles or if you have allowed your circumstances to derail you, you must take an active role in regaining your faith for your vision. God gave you vision so you would trust Him and not just trust what you see. When you begin to see your vision with the eyes of faith, you will understand that the obstacles you see are only temporary.
Habakkuk realized through the eyes of God’s vision that the Babylonians reign was only temporary. Though it was going to be a difficult time for the Israelites under the harsh leadership of the Babylonians, they would be able to live through it by faith in God’s vision. Habakkuk was so in tuned to his faith in the vision that in Habakkuk 3, he praised God for the victory that they would eventually experience over the Babylonians. Faith in your vision is paramount because the way you see your vision determines how you think, what you say and how you act.
The more you focus your attention on your vision the more your faith will grow. Taking slow and steady faith steps on your vision journey will open the door for more opportunities for success to come your way. If you choose instead to walk by fear, you will waste time and energy on activities that will take you away from your unique vision course. If you choose to activate your faith, you will courageously move forward in following your promised path that will lead to sure vision success.