I worked in schools for 10 years. We would discuss the “Vision. Mission. Values” (VMV) once in a while, especially when there was a change of leadership, or there was an external validation around the corner. At the year end, we wrote reports and ensured every written segment have alignment in term of VMV and Strategic Directions. Then we returned back to our daily fire-fighting routines for 9 months.
It has been a burning question in me, why exactly organizations need VMV? What is vision? Why do we spend a lot of time discussing how a vision statement should look like, how a mission statement should look like, then get back to do the same old things? I couldn’t find any satisfying answers for these questions, until I had a vision on my own.
The vision came to me not because I chose it. Rather, it chose me. It didn’t come in the form of text. It came with images flashing in my mind. I hated it, because it kept me losing sleep at night. I hated it, because it kept pulling me into an unknown space that I felt too dangerous for myself, without income, without foreseeable future, with many people judging my sanity. But I loved it, because it was the only thing that my heart wanted to do.
The moment I surrendered and decided to act on it, it pulled people who shared the same vision towards me. I met my co-founder Liu Yan, and together, we spent many months building our shared vision.
Everywhere we went, we talked about our vision. We got rejected. We got doubted. Sometimes, we felt like we should lower our vision and do something simple, something easy. Those moments, the dots connecting our vision started to appear one by one.
Then, we welcomed a Deputy Vice President from Prudential, Steven, joining our team full time for a year, with full salary paid by Prudential. We asked him why we had the honor to have him, out of so many NGOs welcoming him on board, he said “Because of your vision”.
6 months after joining our team, Steven is now completely living our vision.
When we conducted collective leadership workshops with CEOs and regional HR managers for our clients, I felt deeply touched by the vibration in the air when people truly feel the connection to the shared vision. With their eyes closed, we invited them to visualize a beautiful future that they desire to bring about, zooming in the faces of joy and happiness of the people inside that future “What if you could do your part in creating that desired future?”
The answer for each participant would come. It comes from the space of deep compassion and humanity within each of us.
These experiences provided answers for my questions. It is not about the vision statement. It is about the strong emotional connection that we have towards the vision, which propels us towards taking the first step to change. The strongly felt vision pulls people with the shared vision towards us (so save us the time to ensure alignment), helping us co-create the desired future we wish to make happen.
So, before you craft a vision statement, ask your heart if it is in love with your vision.