“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~Michelangelo
Vision. Webster’s Dictionary states that vision is “a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination.” As coaches, we think of vision as a preferred future. It’s a destination to work towards.
In his book Christian Coaching, author Gary R. Collins says, “A vision is a clear picture of something we want to have exist in the future. It is a target we intend to reach. It encourages people to think beyond what is and visualize what can be or will be.”
I see vision as being like the box top, from a puzzle, with a beautifully colored image that paints a picture of the finished work once all the pieces are put in place.
The Advantage of a Compelling Vision
Many people walk through life without thought to creating a vision and living purposefully. We can find ourselves pushed forward by deadlines, expectations and to-do lists; reacting to situations as they arise. Or we may find ourselves driven forward by a desire for something like accomplishments, recognition, or money. However, a compelling vision will irresistibly pull us forward like a gravitational force.
Andy Stanley writes, in his book Visioneering, about four advantages of having a compelling vision:
- Passion: A clear and compelling vision always brings about strong emotion. The more clear the vision, the stronger the emotion. Touch an individual or group’s emotions and you have the inspiration for movement.
- Motivation: The vision gives a reason to move forward and assigns meaning to the day-to-day tasks you commit to in order to reach the vision.
- Direction: The vision acts as a map or guide. No more wandering aimlessly, wondering how to spend your time or what you should focus on. Your direction is clear. Does something move you toward your vision or away from it? Vision is the tool for decision-making.
- Purpose: It gives you a bigger “why;” a reason to get up in the morning; and a feeling that what you do really matters.
Dreams Inform Vision
As Dr. Martin Luther King said as he boldly and passionately began to describe his vision, “I have a dream…” Creating a compelling vision often begins with a dream. I tend to think of vision as a dream with goals and a commitment.
Earlier this week, I met with a potential coaching client. Following my usual format for a discovery session, I asked her about her ideal future. The question was, “If things go really well for you, over the next year, what would your ideal life look like at that time?”
She hesitated, and then began to talk about small changes in her day-to-day life as a mom at home with her small children. She talked about her husband working less on weekends. In that moment, she wasn’t able to see past the present and dream big enough to imagine a future of possibilities for herself beyond her current reality. To urge her to dig deeper I said, “Dream bigger. What would your ideal life look like if there were no limits and you knew you could succeed?”
She began to talk about going back to school part-time and working toward a career in immigration law. Her mother would be in their home, caring for the children during the half-days she would spend in class. She talked of her value of family and spending time with her young children while honoring the desires of her own heart. She allowed herself to begin to dream.
Helping Others Clarify Vision
Here are some other questions we, as coaches, can ask to encourage our clients to dig deeper into their dreams and start to build a picture of what the future could look like:
Talk about the vision you have for what you want your life [business] to look like in a year, if things were to go really well? What would you do if you had unlimited resources and knew you wouldn’t fail?
- What would your future look like if you thought beyond your current capabilities and dreamed in terms of your potential?
- Tell me more, what exactly would that look like?
- What would be the impact of achieving this vision on your life?
- How would it feel to create this kind of life [career, ministry, business]?
- What would your life be like if all this were true?
- If there’s a dream you’re not naming for fear of what others will think; or because it seems too big or presumptuous, what would it be?
As Christian coaches working with clients who are forming vision, we know that we must first help them create a very clear, compelling and concise vision. We help them to discern if that vision aligns with their strengths, gifts, core values and passions. Then we hold that vision out front for them as they begin the work of bringing the vision to life.
As one of my clients once said, “Thanks for holding space for me to have the business of my dreams. That’s what a good coach does… they see the future for you when you cannot.”