I love art.
Every once-in-a-while, I get this crazy notion that I can be an artist.
When this whim hits, I usually go to Hobby Lobby, buy a boatload of paints and a couple of canvases (I already have brushes at home) and prepare to let my creativity wash over me.
Before I even begin painting, I can see the finished piece in my head and it's always gorgeous. I can visualize the delicate brush strokes, the interplay of colors, the dance of shadows and light; I can describe the metaphors and imagery and the the literary references.
I haven't so much as opened a bottle of paint yet, but to me, the canvas is already a masterpiece.
With that result clear and fresh in my mind, I mix my colors and dip my brush. Then I begin to paint.
It doesn't take long for me to realize that there's a flaw in my masterpiece. It's not a problem with the vision that I have for the piece; it's not a problem with the paint or the brushes; it's not a problem with the canvas. The problem is that I don't know how to paint. I don't understand the technique of layering colors or creating textures.
I haven't devoted myself to learning the ins-and-outs of painting, so my masterpiece pretty quickly turns into a piece of something else.
When I realize that I don't have the skill required to bring my artwork to life, I tend to find some excuse to stop working on it. Eventually, the half-painted canvas gets thrown into a corner in the closet and I forget about it altogether.
Okay, Randy. You're a bad painter. So what?
A lot of times we, as leaders, take this same approach in our lives. Going into a new job (or task, or position), we have this beautiful picture of what we want to achieve. We can see how all of the details come together, and we are confident that we are about to create a masterpiece.
But if we don't have the skills, techniques, and plans to achieve that vision, our masterpiece won't turn out the way we imagined it. In our lives, though, the stakes are much higher than in my paintings. If we are in positions of authority over others, it is no hyperbole to say that people hang in the balance.
As leaders, if we fail, we are potentially costing our people their jobs, families, or even their spiritual health. Frankly, it's an overwhelming responsibility.
The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to help us bring our vision to life. When we don't know what to do, we can consult friends, mentors, and peers who have been there before us. When nothing seems to be working, we have people in our lives who would love to guide and encourage us.
The task for us, then, is to press on towards the vision.
Summary: The 3 Keys to a Successful Vision
- Have a vision. This may sound trite, but I mean it sincerely. If you don't have any idea what you want to accomplish, there's no way you'll ever finish it.
- Be aware of what you don't know. If you fool yourself into thinking that you have all of the skills you need, you're not only hurting yourself - you're hurting everyone that is following you.
- Determine to see it all the way through. It's not going to be easy, but resolve to keep at it until it's done. You have absolutely no chance of success if you give up.