About my writing: My passion is to develop leaders who have eternity in mind with Jesus as their guide. To that end, I write about two topics. The first is leadership and character development. The second is Biblical principles through the lens of a leader.
Most define where they want to go. Few determine who they want to be. It is from who we are that great dreams are born and destinations are realized.
In a more purist view, it matters less where we go, but who we are. For what does it matter if we go to amazing places if on the inside we are dark and dull.
As a leader, stop obsessing about your mission and vision. Fixate on who you and your team dream to become.
Let me illustrate.
Here is how President Reagan described the very essence of what the United States is—not the vision, but the soul. Not the finished robe, but the fibers with which it is woven.
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still… And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home. We’ve got to keep that hope alive and make the shining city on a hill a reality.
In the Bible, the phrase “city on a hill” appears in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus tells his followers that they are the “light of the world” and that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. This passage is often interpreted as a call to Christians to live their lives in a way that visibly shines as an example to others.
Many organizations work hard to paint where they intend to go in terms of market penetration, product or service lines, and how they want to treat the customer. A company’s vision is held in high esteem by well-meaning leaders, many times rising to the level of religious fervor.
Defining a vision usually results in an image of what we want to do in the future (an action vision). But the more important aspect of our future outlook is to paint a clear picture of who we want to be as a group of people (a DNA vision).
If I were to give you a homework assignment to describe the DNA, the soul, the heart of your organization, what would you write? Here is what we wrote for our organization, TotalCare. We have achieved some of our DNA vision, but we aspire for much more. So when we read this together and to the new members of our team, we paint a picture and renew our commitment to who we want to be.
We dream of TotalCare to be a place of real hope and healing. A place of personal and spiritual growth. A place of deep transformation for all who are touched by it. A place where the best medicine is practiced. A place of innovation. A family. A place that births creative genius. A place where people can spread their wings. A safe place. Where professionals work. Where friends work. Where ideas flourish. Where God is glorified. Where patients are wowed. The pride of Fort Worth, of Texas, and of any city its people work in. A world class brand. A source of comfortable financial income, benefits, and retirement to all its people. A place where marvelors come from all over the world to learn from us. To imitate our culture. To copy our efficiency. To be inspired by our hearts. Our dream is that TotalCare be a beacon of light that even for generations to come, people say, “Great people dreamed and built an organization that defined and defended values that honor the human spirit and show God’s love.”
As you consider the DNA vision of your own organization, keep in mind that it’s okay if foundational documents are not one statement, but rather memorizable bits. Go for clarity, not catchy phrases. There is nothing wrong with catchy phrases, but for maximum clarity, there must be more substance than clichés.
Okay, now it’s your turn. If you are a leader of people, stop and write. Dream. Dig deep and put into words the beautiful image of who you dream to become. Dreaming is the first step. Writing is the second step—but often you cannot dream if you don’t write. They tend to form a partnership. The third step is communicating.
Determine who you want to be, the heart and soul of your organization, your DNA vision, and be a light in a dark world.