In working with my close friend and collaborator @siraju, I’ve learned an enormous amount about the necessary link between personal vision and shared vision.
Simply stated, if an individual cannot recognize their personal vision within the scope of a team or organizational vision, that individual will not be able to be a full participant in — let alone take responsibility for — the instantiation of that shared vision. It’s why I believe that the work of crafting shared objectives and a developing a collaborative understanding of the mission at hand is so essential. In fact, I don’t believe that success is possible without it.
That said, the challenge really begins before we ever sit down for that “integrating” conversation. Specifically, I know of two critical steps that have to happen if our full transformational potential is to be unleashed.
First, I can’t bring my personal vision to the table if I don’t know what my personal vision is. Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about micro-level visions, e.g., what I’d like to accomplish in the few weeks or months. Personal visioning work involves asking yourself very hard and often disorienting questions. For example:
- “Why was I born?”
- “What is worth living (and working) for?”
- “What do I want to look back on and be proud of when I am 80 years old?”
Answers to these kinds of questions are rarely readily available off the cuff. (Think about it: how much support and guidance in developing our thinking on these issues is provided during our education and in the early years of our working lives?) So chances are good that most of us are, at any given point in our lives, somewhere on the spectrum between “no vision” and “totally integrated vision.”
The other prerequisite to working with others to develop a shared vision is the capability of expanding our consciousness to include the well-being, personal growth, and economic opportunity experienced or not experienced by others. One way to test this is to ask yourself: In whose personal journeys am I a co-investor? On whose behalf would I spend personal resources — including time, attention, money — if it meant sacrificing some of my short-term comfort, security, or well-being?
I have observed that we, as humans, tend to create concentric circles of consciousness and responsibility. Generally, at least in the West, the individual is at the center. The next circle usually includes some level of blood or partnership relations. Close friends might come next. Then maybe close colleagues in the workplace. And so on.
From my viewpoint, it doesn’t actually matter *whom*, specifically, we place in any given ring. The more relevant variable is how far out (i.e., across how many rings) our consciousness and sense of economic responsibility extends. Do I feel responsible for the well-being of each member of my team at work? Each customer of my product? Each person who touches my company’s supply chain?
To expand our consciousness into another ring is to make a big step outside of our comfort zone, to face the feelings of inadequacy and irrelevance (“how could I even hope to make a difference?), to allow for the possibility that when these new people are hurting or struggling (and there may be quite a lot of them), I am likely to experience a kind of co-suffering. It requires a major leap of faith.
All this can seem a bit discouraging. But the reason believe it’s worth doing this work is that it has the potential to unleash an astonishing economic impact. Developing one’s personal vision and expanding one’s scope of consciousness are the most powerful tools I know to affect positive change and improve the likelihood of success, both in terms of individual businesses and across regional economies.
To illustrate this, I’ve created the following thought experiment, expressed as a mathematical function.
- “x” is the notional level of personal vision we’ve worked to develop, expressed as a decimal between 0 and 1.0.
- “y” is the number of rings (aka zones) outside of the realm of the individual into which we’ve expanded our sense of personal and economic responsibility
- The output of the function is expressed in notional units showing the scale of economic impact
Let’s plug in some numbers to see how it works:
|Clarity of personal vision (“x”)||Zones of economic responsibility beyond the individual
|Economic impact in notional units|
So, what is a unit of economic impact? I would argue it that it doesn’t really matter. The point is that neither characteristic is sufficient on its own, but together they can create incredible leverage.