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“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about characteristics of great leaders.  If you google “leadership characteristics” you’ll find lists and articles and books written about the kind of qualities that leaders should have.  One that gets mentioned fairly often is the ability to create and communicate a vision for the organization.  You’ll get no argument from me – setting & communicating & getting buy in for a company-wide vision is indispensable.  We’ve even discussed it in this space before.

In my experience working with business leaders, however, that’s just part one of the vision process.  Part two is equally important – you not only have to have a vision that you can share and get others excited about, you have to be relentless in going after it.

I’ve always been fascinated by salmon.  They spend their lives out in the ocean.  Then, when the time is right, they come home.  Their vision is to spawn in whatever body of water they originally came from.  They swim upstream, up waterfalls, past bears, etc.  No matter the weather, environmental factors, predators – whatever happens, they will not stray from their vision.  They will not give up, and they will not lose sight of where they’re trying to go.

I think salmon provide a good image of the relentless vision you have to have as a leader (minus the trying not to get eaten by bears).  You have to have a clear picture of where you’re going, sure, but then you have to go for it regardless of what gets in your way.  You may have to make unexpected turns, or take unexpected risks, or try unexpected things, but whatever you do it is always with that vision in mind.

Sometimes as leaders we allow our pursuit of the vision to get sidetracked.  Barriers inevitably come up, and rather than figure out a way through, we lose sight of the vision, or we tell ourselves the vision wasn’t that great in the first place so why fight through this, or some other excuse.  We allow other people to hijack our vision.  In the short term, the excuses we make allow us to live with our lack of relentlessness.  But over time we eventually become frustrated, resentful, angry with others, but mostly angry with ourselves for giving up without a fight.  And that’s no way to spend life.

“I’ve known lots of people that are talented and nothing happens.  It’s not about talent, it’s about relentless drive.” – Julie Brown

Are you relentless in pursuit of your vision?  Or do you allow people or events to get in the way?  Which do you want to be?

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