“If your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.” – Chinese Proverb
Every time I read that quote I like it a little more. Partly that’s because I really do think the most impactful and longest lasting thing we do in our businesses – in our lives, really – is to grow & develop people. In the end, the value we bring to other people is really the whole reason we’re here.
I also like that quote for another reason. I like the fact that it points out the reality that depending on what your vision is, you need to do different things. That’s relevant to so many businesses today. There are so many leaders who are on a path because they’ve just always been on that path. It’s not because they’ve thought about what their vision is for the business, or how they define success. They’re simply doing the same thing they’ve always done because they’ve always done it that way.
There are all kinds of reasons for that, but one very simple one is this: too many leaders simply don’t make the time to think through the vision for their business. They are so busy putting out fires and managing crises and doing day to day stuff that they never step back and think about what the end picture is supposed to look like.
“That’s right,” you say, “I am doing all those things, and that’s why I don’t have time to think about my vision for this business.” Whose fault is that? Our schedules look the way they do because we’ve chosen for them to look that way. You don’t have time to think about vision because you’ve chosen to do other things. The reality is that too many leaders simply don’t think vision is important enough to make it a priority.
So make it a priority. Set aside time to think about your vision for the business. Get help from other key people if you need it. But don’t pretend that it doesn’t matter. Don’t pretend that you just don’t have time. We make time for things we value, and having a clear vision is one of the most valuable things you as a leader provide to the business.