The vision thing can often be tricky for student leaders.
Your vision may simply be wanting to do your best. Often, students will tell me their vision is "to have the best year ever." But what does that mean?
Left on its own, it sounds more like a mission statement.
Anyone stepping into student leadership can say, "I want to have the best year ever." But that statement doesn't say anything unique about your situation, it's not measurable, and it will end up meaning different things to different people.
A vision is simply a picture of where you'd like to end up.
It gives people a sense of the big picture and helps others get a sense of where the group is headed.
For example, Stuart was elected as Senior Class President. At the beginning of the year, Stuart shared his vision with the rest of the council. His vision was for his class to create a park in the middle of campus for students to enjoy. He announced that this would be the Senior Class gift to the school.
As a part of this vision, the other students on the Senior Class Council realized they would need to do more fund raisers, coordinate the plans with the Administration, and begin right away to make this project a possibility.
A vision doesn't have to give all of the details, but it needs to be specific enough that people can figure out what details need to happen.
The idea of a new park in the middle of campus was unique for this class. It was measurable - the class would know if they accomplished the vision or not. Plus, it gave added meaning to all of the other events which preceded it. Fund raisers were more than raising money for the class, they were for getting resources to complete the park.
One of the best ways to communicate a vision is to paint a picture and put your people in it.
Stuart kept holding up the plans for the park and pointing out how he imagined it being used in the future. He told stories of what it would be like for future classes to hold picnics and rallies in the park. He attached the idea of the park to some of the needs of the students: a place to hang out, a quiet place to study outside, a central hub for meeting people on campus. Stuart did a great job helping the team know what success looked like and what they would look like achieving it.
At the end of the year, Stuart's vision for a park became a reality.
* What type of project or event can you imagine accomplishing during your student leader year?
* Are there projects that are on-going from past years in which you need to complete a portion of during your student leader year?
* How can you turn your vision into a picture people can see themselves in?
Samuel Smiles, a Scottish author and reformer, wrote, "An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing."
A clear vision provides people with an idea of what is possible.
A vision will point toward a change in the future. A leader must always be willing to see things as they are now so that they can better guess (and often...it's just a guess) what path an organization should take toward the future. It does a leader and his or her organization no good to create an elaborate plan that has no possibility of succeeding. It's easy to dream...it's more difficult to do. There will always be grand dreams and schemes, but they must be partnered with legitimate strategies and resources in order to achieve them.
Hope is not a strategy.
Once the year begins and you begin to implement your plans and schemes your tendency will be to begin to live day-to-day. It is easy to lose sight of one's overarching vision.
If you're living from event to event, you will soon be dead in the water. The vision thing often trips up leaders. If you can't see beyond one step ahead, you might need to step aside (harsh but true). Vision based on what you are capable of today or on just the resources that you currently have at your disposal isn't vision - it's reprioritizing.
Dream big dreams. Connect the potential of your team with the possibilities of the future.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: What kind of vision will you offer those you lead this year?
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: Write your vision in the comments below and see how it feels when you read it.
: : : :
Developing lifelong leaders one student at a time