Vision: Investing in the Future

Tim and Junior will discuss vision as it relates to leadership and personal development. It's to see what doesn't exist, to see what others can't, and to see potential and possibility in yourself, in others, and in the organization.

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Episode Show Notes

In this episode of Culture by Design, we're finishing up our Character and Competence series with the final episode. If you've been with us each week, thank you. This has been an impactful few weeks where we've discussed topics including integrity, humility, accountability, courage, learning, change, judgment, and finally today, we cover the fourth cornerstone of competence, vision. Tim and Junior will discuss vision as it relates to leadership and personal development. It's to see what doesn't exist, to see what others can't, and to see potential and possibility in yourself, in others, and in the organization.

What is vision? (03:16) Vision is another differentiator between leaders and managers, and great leaders have two kinds of vision for two units of performance: the individual and the organization. But vision isn't made up of dreams, you have to take note of your wanting/willing ratio.

Vision helps you survive (17:24) Inevitably, disaster will strike. Vision helps pull us through when we face uncertainty. Uncertainty paired with the vision that can pull us forward and create some mobilization.

Vision precedes creativity (20:37) Tim and Junior explain that vision begins the creative process. Creating a vision is creating a conception of the future and defining a goal. Leaders need to enable independence in their people before they can enable creativity.

Creating a vision (32:01) Our hosts delve into how to create, simplify, communicate, embody, and endure your vision.

Episode Transcript

0:00:02.4 Producer: Welcome back,Culture By Design listeners. It's Freddy, one of the producers of the podcast.In today's episode, we are concluding our meeting with Character and Competenceseries, this is the final episode in this series. And if you've been with useach week, thank you. This has been an impactful series spanning across topicsincluding integrity, humility, accountability, courage, learning, change,judgment, and finally today, we cover the fourth cornerstone of competence,vision. As Tim and Junior will discuss in today's episode, vision is to seewhat does not exist, to see what others cannot see, and to see potential andpossibility in yourself, in others and in the organization. As always, links tothis episode, show notes can be found at Enjoytoday's episode on the fourth cornerstone of competence, vision.


0:01:00.6 Junior: Welcome back,everyone, to Culture by Design. I'm Junior, I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark, andtoday we'll be discussing the fourth and final cornerstone of competence,vision. Tim, how are you?


0:01:10.1 Tim: Doing great. Reallyexcited to talk about vision. What could be more exciting than that?


0:01:14.5 Junior: I know. There'szero sarcasm in that. It's absolutely literal. I'm excited to talk about ittoday. And it is our eighth and final of the cornerstones of both character andcompetence. I'm a little bit sad that this series is ending, but thankful thatwe have another series that is beginning. We've got a lot of good stuff in theworks, and this has been a very enjoyable set of episodes for me.


0:01:37.3 Tim: It has. I've learneda lot myself.


0:01:40.4 Junior: Yeah, it's had methinking. And as some of our team has mentioned before, that's when we knowthey're good, at least relative to us and how we think about this. If you catchyourself thinking about these episodes a little bit later in the day, as I findmyself doing, I think that they're making a difference, at least for me. Okay,let's start with a quote today. Daniel Hudson Burnham, an American architect,"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probablythemselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope andwork." What do you think about that quote?


0:02:16.4 Tim: That's an amazingquote because a good vision, an aspirational vision, a powerful vision doesstir your blood. It's gotta be detached from reality, and it's gotta be outthere a little bit. And then it begins to create a power. And we're gonna talkabout that. So I love that quote.


0:02:38.2 Junior: It's very on thenose, make no little plans. So today we're talking about vision. Vision to seewhat does not exist, vision to see what others can't see, and vision to see thepotential and possibility in yourself and others. So we're gonna spend thefirst little while talking about what vision is, who needs it, what it isn't.And then toward the back half of the episode, we're gonna get into somepractical ways that we can improve or create our vision in the first place. Sowhat is a vision? It's a seedling of reality. It's a portrait of the future.What do you think vision is to you, Tim?


0:03:16.8 Tim: It is those things.It's a life giving force. And I want to emphasize that and come back to thatdefinition over and over again. It's a life giving force. It taps mental andemotional and spiritual energy. It propels you forward. And we'll see as we gohow that happens, kind of the mechanics of a vision, how it's able to do that.So I like that one. It taps power and it's a life giving force.


0:03:45.5 Junior: A couple episodesback, we were talking about urgency, and that urgency can be a catalyst, butseldom a sustainer. It's different when it comes to vision, because vision isboth. It can be a catalyst. I've seen that in my own life, and a sustainer, Isee that every single day. It points to the future. So it's this unique thingthat bridges those two things. It can get you going and keep you going. So whoneeds a vision? Everyone needs vision, of course. And again, maybe two, threeepisodes back, maybe it was even farther than that, we were talking about thedifference between leadership and management. And as I was thinking aboutvision, I think that this is another key differentiator between leaders andmanagers. Managers seldom have vision in the way that we're going to describeit today. Leaders do. And I think that that's another point that we couldemphasize and think about as we talk about the distinction between leadershipand management.


0:04:49.6 Tim: And Junior, I wannamake a key distinction here because I think great leaders have two kinds ofvision for two different units of performance. They're able to create a visionfor the individual, and they're able to create a vision for the organization.So think about that, right? So you need a vision for yourself that propels youforward. There's a life giving force for you individually, and then theorganization needs one. And great leaders are able to help create, craft,communicate a vision at those two different levels. I think this is really,really important to think about and we may want to just stop and ask listenersto think about someone who has had a vision for you, perhaps even carried thatvision, that aspiration when you didn't have it for yourself. This is oftenwhat leaders do, is that they carry a vision for you, even before you do.


0:05:57.9 Tim: They can see yourpotential, they can see what you might be able to accomplish. And so that'svision at an individual level. And then of course, it's also their job tocreate a vision for the organization. Let me make another point here. Theydon't do it by themselves, right? They do envision the future for anorganization, but it's not something they do all by themselves. They make it aco-creative process. They enlist others in that process. And here's aninteresting point also, the very process of participating in vision creation,of creating that vision together, that is a life-giving force too. It's notjust the finished product. It's not just the portrait of the future, thatseedling of reality that we put put out in front of us, but the actual processof creating it or co-creating it together, that's a life giving force in and ofitself. So I wanted to make that point because for those of you who haveparticipated in that process of creating a vision, you'll understand what I'mtalking about, right? Just doing that, just participating in that process is avery inspirational and aspirational activity.


0:07:25.6 Junior: Well, I appreciatethat you've spent some time on that distinction. I've never thought about itthat way before. Last episode, we were talking about the power ofdifferentiation and specificity, and I think breaking vision down into thosetwo categories makes a lot of sense. Personal, organizational, the mosteffective leaders can do both. I would say that leaders a level down could doone or the other. Sometimes they're good at the personal and poor at theorganizational or vice versa, but being able to do both of those is key. Ithink about my own life. And you mentioned, has anyone ever had a vision foryou and maybe carried that when you didn't have it for yourself? There's acritical nature to vision that I think is interesting to think about becausevision is forward looking, it's aspirational. And so it by definition must besomewhat critical of today.


0:08:20.7 Junior: And so when otherpeople have given me even more vision, there's this element of critique that Irespect you and I respect where you are, but you could be so much more. And Ithink that we can do that for ourselves and for other people and fororganizations, respect where the organization is today but it could be so muchmore. And I think that aspirational nature of vision is what's so compellingbecause we can paint that portrait of the future and then go embody it. We canreverse engineer all the way down to very practical things that we can do toaccomplish that vision. And so, yeah, I agree with what you're saying.


0:09:01.6 Tim: Well, Junior, thinkabout it. What if you're a frontline supervisor and you really don't have anyformal responsibility for the strategic vision of the organization, maybe eventhe vision of the department or the functional area or the geography or theline of business, wherever you are. But you run a team, you're a frontlinesupervisor. So what is your role when it comes to vision? It's notorganizational necessarily, although there may be opportunities to contributeto it here and there, but the majority of your role is to have a vision foreach one of the members of your team. You have to be able to see them and thensee the gap between where they are and their potential. So you are engaging invision, but it's the first kind. It's at the individual level. The individualis the unit of performance. You have to be able to see the members of yourteam. You have to see them beyond where they see themselves. And as you said,Junior, you can carry that vision until they can finally see it themselves.


0:10:11.7 Junior: One of the piecesof that that you have me thinking about is that the vision for the person issomething that is co-created. You mentioned co-creation before, and it's notdone in isolation by the leader who then shows up and says, this is my visionfor you. That's not going to work.


0:10:31.4 Tim: Right.


0:10:32.2 Junior: It's somethingthat is co-created because there has to be buy-in at the level of theindividual. And we've talked before about the five functions of leadership. Oneof them is talent acquisition and development. And I tended for a long time andmaybe still tend that way to focus on the first half and a little bit less onthe second half, talent acquisition but where's the development, and vision isa big piece of that in co-creating that with people and then helping them alongto embody that vision. So there are a couple other elements that we want totouch on here. One is the relationship between vision and confidence. And thisis something that I've seen pretty recently in myself. Vision and confidence.Vision allows us, or at least provides a greater degree of confidence becausewe can know whether or not we're moving in the right direction. And I thinkthat's so much of what breeds confidence. If there isn't good direction, it'svery difficult to have a lot of confidence. What do you say to that?


0:11:36.3 Tim: No, I think that'strue. And sometimes it's interesting, Junior, because sometimes the vision isahead of your confidence, and sometimes your confidence may be a little bitahead of your vision. You don't know where you're going. And so it's... Theyaren't necessarily in the same place, but they do grow together. And theinterplay between the two is fascinating. We have to understand that at anindividual level, this is very true. It's also true at an organizational level.We don't talk about confidence as much as capability, but you have to beconvinced that you have the capability to do something before you will reallyset out to do it and accomplish it. So that relationship between vision andconfidence is a very interesting relationship. And we need to focus on that. Weneed to understand that better.


0:12:34.2 Junior: Last point here issequence. You must have a vision for yourself before you help others obtainvisions for them. That piece of sequence is something that's important thatwe'll talk about a bit later. Next, what isn't vision? So if all of thosethings we talked about are vision, what isn't it? Visions are not dreams. And Ithink that this is the big point here. We're going to make some distinctions.Sometimes those things are used interchangeably and sometimes that's fine, butwe'll provide a little bit more definition to help you understand what wethink. Authors James Champy and Nitin Nohria claim that most dreams arestillborn. That's what they say. That's true. We think that that is true. Mostdreams are stillborn. Why? Because they're passive and idle thoughts andnothing more. They're just ideas. And as you say in the book, ideas are a dimea dozen, saying we're all familiar with, but something that's appropriate inthis context.


0:13:30.0 Junior: You also say thatbeing dreamy is being slack with no intention to act. So dreams and visions,what's the difference? You mentioned the wanting and willing ratio. And I wasthinking about this as most, I guess people like us do in a two by two. And Iwas thinking about wanting and willing on the axes and what does high want highwilling create? That's what we would call big vision. And then there are othercombinations too. One of them is high want low vision. That's where big dreamslie. If there's low want, high vision or high willing, that's not going to getus anywhere either. So there are interesting combinations. And what we aspireto do is have high willingness and also high want.


0:14:22.4 Tim: That's true, Junior,I think this is really fascinating, this relationship between wanting andwilling, because people often may kind of drive by, throw away comments about,well, I'd like to do this or I'd like to do that, but it's really an idlethought. They're not willing to do it. They're simply musing. And there's thisgiant wanting to willing gap. So that's a throwaway comment. That's an idlecomment. There's no intent behind that. There's no determination behind that.There's no commitment behind that. And so that's why most dreams are stillborn.Going back to that, to that statement, this is where we really have to analyzeourselves. If we have an aspiration, okay, great. How much willingness do wehave around that? What's the ratio between wanting to do something and beingwilling to do it? It makes all the difference in the world.


0:15:23.2 Junior: It makes a ton ofdifference. And this is one of the reasons we have to be so careful about thewords that come out of our mouths. Because if we have a big wanting and willinggap, and we talk a lot about wanting and there's low willingness, people pickup on that. They see the pattern and they'll eventually see those things comingout of your mouth as just hot air. So if you want people to take you seriously,it's very important that the willingness backs up those aspirations. So let'stalk about a survey that we did, 60 organizations. And the question was, do youwant to be promoted? How many people do you think said yes? 50%. And then thefollow up question, are you willing to develop the skills and knowledgenecessary to be promoted? 25%. So half. And that's just, that's just you sayingthat you're willing, right? And then if we took it further and actually watchedpeople in their effort to do the things necessary to get promoted, it would bea lot less than 25%. But just in that, the self response, we see half drop offfrom wanting to willing.


0:16:37.2 Tim: Yeah, it'sfascinating, Junior. And people are willingly admitting this. This is a massivedisconnect. It's dissonance within the person, but they readily admit. So thenwanting is, it's baseless, it's unfounded, the commitment is not behind it, butit just goes to show... I mean, it's a way to measure the difference between areal vision and then a dream. And we were able to kind of nail that downquantitatively in this survey with those two questions so that we could see thewanting willing gap. And it's a sizeable gap.


0:17:24.3 Junior: It's a huge gap.And the fact that it's self response is so interesting. People, it's almostunashamed like, yeah, I want to, but I'm not willing. Okay, next one. Visionhelps you survive. This is one that I like particularly because inevitablydisaster strikes. And Erich Fromm said, he's a social psychologist,"Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold hispowers." So when in history have we ever seen someone "unfold"their powers that hasn't been pressed, that hasn't been in a situation of greatdemand and great uncertainty? The greatest people have not been born fromstability and ease. Those who we respect the most have been molded by uncertainty.Their response to it has been to grapple with it, to move forward, to createvision, and then walk in a direction. And so this vision helps pull us throughwhen disaster does come, when there is uncertainty. And you mentioned thatuncertainty, it's not uncertainty in and of itself in a vacuum, that there'snothing inherently positive, but it's that uncertainty paired with the visionthat can pull us forward and create some mobilization.


0:19:00.1 Tim: It's alsointeresting, Junior, that if you're in a situation of ease and comfort andassurance and prosperity, those conditions often don't impel you to even createa vision in the first place. They kind of relax you and disarm you and lull youinto a state of assurance, and they kind of move you into a mode of consumptionversus contribution, so you're not really thinking about vision so much. Sothere, it can be quite dangerous. The conditions can be dangerous.


0:19:36.0 Junior: Well, it makes methink about the aura of comfort that surrounds a lot of what we do. And at somepoint, perhaps the environment won't dictate or produce the uncertaintynecessary to motivate us to create the vision, and that needs to be done insideourselves. And so there's almost, you gotta be careful with this, and it'scertainly a balancing act, but almost an artificial dissatisfaction with thecurrent state. I don't know if artificial is the right way to put that, but atsome point, we need to grab hold of a portrait of the future that's differentthan what today is, even if today is pretty good, because we cannot stay inthat state in just stasis and expect great things to happen.


0:20:26.3 Tim: Yeah, it's very true.For some reason, equilibrium is not our friend, usually, even though that'swhat we seem to want and seem to be seeking. But once we get there, it's notwhere we want to stay.


0:20:37.4 Junior: So the last piecewe want to touch on regarding vision and what it is and how it works is itsrelationship to creativity. Now, this is a really interesting vein that I hadnot considered, and so as we've been preparing for this episode, I've beenthinking a lot about this, vision precedes creativity. This is something thatyou seem to have a pretty good handle on, Tim, that I hadn't considered. Sovision gives a goal, but then how do we make this connection to creativity?Here's how I'm seeing this, and let me know if I'm seeing this the way that youdo. Vision gives a goal, which then begets a question, how do I get to thegoal? So if that's the jumping off point is the question, we've createddistance between where we are and where we want to get. And it's the question,the idea that starts to drive the creative process. Is that your line ofthinking?


0:21:40.3 Tim: No, that's exactlyright. The vision begets the question, always the same question, which is howdo we get there? Which then puts that creative process into motion. And so webegin that creative process to create a conception of the future to define thegoal. And then once we have that, we have to figure out how we're going to getthere. But isn't it interesting that vision, having a vision catalyzes thiswhole process, produces this question of then, how do we get there? So it'spowerful when you think about it.


0:22:25.0 Junior: It's incrediblypowerful. The way that I look at this is often when I think about vision, Ithink about execution, where, okay, there's this point in the future. Now, whatdo we need to do to get there? We need to do A, B, and C, and we just executeon those things. I often ignore the creativity that's inherent in that process.And so a lot of people may not see themselves as creatives. I might notdescribe myself as a creative, but I think my domain of creativity is justdifferent. And many people's domains of creativity are different. It's not penand paper or brush and canvas, but it might be... Inside the business world, Ithink there's a lot of creativity that passes as just execution, when inreality it's, there's a lot of creativity going on. So Steve Jobs said this,creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they didsomething, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it. Theyjust saw something, it seemed obvious to them after a while. That's becausethey were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. Ilove that. You might feel a little guilty because you didn't really do it. Youjust saw something and you connected it, but isn't that what always happens. Isthere anything that's truly from nothing?


0:23:53.1 Tim: That statement byJobs makes it seem too easy, right? When he says it's just connecting things,oh, it's just, so, no problem. It's easy. Go do it. It's actually a lot harderthan he makes it up here. It makes me think of a statement, Junior, from another,Steve Martin, the comedian. He said that... He's talking about his own craft,and trying to teach it to others. And he said, you've gotta be an idea machine.That's your job. And so you're constantly generating ideas, you need to becapturing those. You don't know what they're worth. You don't know wherethey're gonna go, but you're incubating, you're in this stage of incubation allthe time, and you need to think of yourself as an idea machine, and you need towork on that, right? It's your craft. And then who knows where that may lead,but this is your default position. You're always working on that.


0:24:53.5 Junior: The idea ofideation, creativity, being mechanical, resonates with me, maybe just becausethat's how my brain works. But I think about another comedian, Jerry Seinfeld,I think, his mantra was a joke a day. And if I remember correctly, there was aperiod of many, many years where regardless of what was going on, it was a jokea day. And probably 99% of those were not earth shattering, they probablyweren't the funniest things, right? I would love to see some of those jokes,and you would probably think this came from Jerry Seinfeld, like, I'm notterribly impressed, but across enough volume and enough connections, you'llprobably find it.


0:25:39.9 Junior: Here's the lastpoint regarding creativity. This is the point that I love the very most inpreparation for this, creativity and independence. So every year, the MacArthurGenius Grant fellowships are awarded annually to "talented individuals whohave shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuitsand a market capacity for self-direction". That's who they're identifyingand giving the Genius grants to. It's the official statement. So this shows therelationship between vision and originality. There's an element... So at theend they say a market capacity for self-direction. That's fascinating to me.That's one of the criteria. So if this is for Genius grants, what doesself-direction have to do with being awarded a Genius grant? Why do they havethat as a qualifier at the end? Why is that a criteria?


0:26:49.8 Tim: Well, I think becausethey're trying... They are doing something that has not been done before. Theyare pursuing a vein of research. They're pursuing some creative outlet, they'redoing original work. You can't do original work if you are following others orcomplying with what's been done or following convention or following tradition,you've gotta break from the pack somewhere. You've gotta do somethingdifferent. You've gotta create distinction in your work. So that impliesself-direction, it implies independence at some point. And so now we have thisrelationship between vision and independence, there's a positive correlationbetween those two variables that we can't ignore. It's there, right? If we'renot willing to challenge the status quo in the creative process, then we don'tproduce anything that's new or original ever. And so this relationship issomething that we need to think more deeply about and reflect on personally.


0:28:08.8 Junior: I chewed on thisfor a long time, and I asked myself, why can't they just put talentedindividuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in theircreative pursuits, period? That seems pretty reasonable, but then thisqualifier in a market capacity for self-direction, that's amazing to me. And itmeans that that's important for some reason, there's some implications. Whatare they? It means that we should cultivate independence before we cultivatecreativity, because one is an enabling condition of the other. Independencespawns vision. So if we roll this all the way back to vision, this isimportant. Independence spawns vision, creative thought, and action. So peopleare independent before they are creative, not the other way around.


0:28:58.5 Tim: So think about whatthis means, Junior, if you're a leader and you're trying to help others withtheir vision, you've gotta help them become independent before they arecreative as well. So if you're a leader, you need to enable that independencelittle by little. Remember, you're trying to help others unfold their powers.Often the people you work with have no idea what they're capable of, but theyneed help. You don't wanna over delegate or overstretch, but you need them togo on a journey of self-discovery, and give them degrees of independence alongthe way. They need some help in that process. They're not going to be able todo it all by themselves. So with some guidance... Some may need just a littlebit of guidance, some may need a little bit more, but often, with thatguidance, they will be able to gain independence and then be able to use thatindependence in creating a vision and in increasing their own capacity forself-direction going back to the criteria for a MacArthur Genius grant, right?So we can do that with others.


0:30:13.9 Junior: It's a huge lightbulb for me. And here's how I'm thinking about it. What do organizations want?Organizations want competitive advantage. How do you get competitive advantage?Through innovation. How do you get innovation? Through ideas and deviationsfrom the status quo, through creativity. If independence precedes creativity,then if you want competitive advantage, you need to enable independence in yourpeople. I don't see how you can get around that logic, and that's the lightbulb for me, that's the train of thinking. If all of those things are true,then what are we doing by creating people who are dependent? Oof, we're workingagainst the very thing that we're trying to create, unless our ends areself-absorbed. And so, if you truly want to be an effective leader, then one ofthe first things that you need to think about is how to enable the independenceof your people in an appropriate way, with an appropriate amount of autonomy.We say in contributor safety, autonomy with guidance in exchange for results.So you see how these topics interweave, how they're dependent on each other andhow it all works together to become an effective leader. So that for me was alight bulb as I've been thinking about this even while we're talking.


0:31:37.3 Tim: So you can see,Junior, that now we start to bring in the concept of micromanaging. And you cansee how the micromanager squelches and quashes a vision at the individuallevel, because that micromanager is getting in the way, not enablingindependence. So these things start to fit together now.


0:32:01.6 Junior: Dependence andcreativity then are mutually exclusive. Which means that anything you do tobreed dependence is quelling the creativity, as you say. Okay, so vision, it'shard to do. So what do we do? How do we create vision and how do we help otherscreate their vision? Point one, we're gonna go through several steps, is justto create our vision. It needs to exist, and where can it come from? We have anidea for you as a place to start. There are many places that you could start.We think this one is unique enough to call out as something to think about,that vision can come from identity. And this is an interesting vein that you gothrough in the book. You talk about the fact that it could be intergenerationalidentity as a product of your family's heritage. I've seen this enough withenough people having read and studied enough in terms of biographies, autobiographies,that I cannot ignore this point. It comes up too much for me to say, it doesn'tmatter, we shouldn't include it in the episode. I think that it's worth it. Sowhy do you think that this is a part of vision, this intergenerational identity?


0:33:26.9 Tim: Well, Junior, this isa bit of a counterintuitive point that a person can gain vision by digging intotheir past. That's ironic, isn't it? It's ironic. I'm gonna go back in order togain more of a vision for the future, but it's actually true. So understandingmore about your family and where you come from can give you more of a visionfor your life and your future. So let's dig into this a little bit. This issomething that a lot of people don't put together, but this may be helpful to listeners.


0:34:01.7 Junior: So here are somestats that I pulled that I thought were pretty interesting. This is somethingthat, I don't know, there are some undercurrents in society that also tell methat this is interesting to people. The National Genealogical Society said thatthe number of people doing genealogy in the United States has increased by 40%since the year 2000. A lot of this is technology enabled, so I get that. Buthere's some other stats. In 2022, there were an estimated 30 million people inthe United States who were actively engaged in genealogy research. 30 million,that's almost 10%. That's a lot. That's like 8% of the population activelyengaged in genealogy. Well, like that's a big number. And then there's thisidea too that's being borne out, this hypothesis that people are actuallyinterested in where they come from. And here's a stat to back that up. Thenumber of people taking DNA tests for genealogy purposes has increaseddramatically.


0:35:01.1 Junior: So 2012, therewere an estimated 1 million people who had taken a DNA test for genealogypurposes. By last year, 26 million. You're at 26 million people that are doingDNA tests just to look at their genealogy. Why would you do that? Unless youthought it was interesting. Why would 26 million people do that? Unless theywanted to know where they came from for some reason. And so we have thisfascination, it seems, as a species with where we came from, who preceded us,who were they? Where were they? When were they, and what did they do?


0:35:43.3 Tim: I read a statisticthe other day that said, family history research genealogy has become thesecond most popular hobby next to gardening. Isn't that amazing? Okay, sowhat's driving this?


0:36:00.3 Junior: That'sinteresting. I won't dive into that but that's really interesting. I had notheard that. Gardening and ancestry. There you go. So people in your past, whyare we talking about this and why does it seem like a tangent? Because if we goback and look at those who preceded us, there are some things that we can learnthat can help shape our identity, what we think about ourselves, and our visionof the future. There are some motivational stories. If you look back, you'llprobably find some misfits and maybe some train robbers, and we'll ignore them.But there are probably some people in there that did some pretty interestingthings. Tim, you've got a story about Wallace Christofferson. You wanna tell usa little bit about him?


0:36:48.5 Tim: Well, this is just anexample of how a person gains a sense of their intergenerational self, and howthis can give you a vision for your own life. And really, what are you doing asyou're looking back to your ancestors and trying to understand who they are andwhat they did, what are you focusing on? You're focusing on their character,and you're focusing on the way that they overcame hardship and adversity.That's what most people are interested in. So this happened for me in the caseof my grandfather Wallace Christofferson. And I have found some of the thingsfrom his life have inspired me. So I'll just tell you a little bit about hisstory. So he was orphaned at age, I believe it was six. He was the youngest ofnine children. So here he is, he's an orphan. He was passed around the extendedfamily to live with his brothers and sisters, but they were all poor. He neverstayed anywhere for a long period of time. He didn't really have anyone to takecare of him. He never felt a sense of belonging. He really didn't have a home.


0:38:02.2 Tim: So at age 15, he liedabout his age and he said he was 18 and he joined the US Army during World WarI. So he goes into the army at age 15. After the war, he took up boxing and hebecame a heavyweight boxer. And he actually had a match with the world heavyheavyweight champion at the time, Jack Dempsey. And he didn't fare too well,but he did say that he was proud of the scar that Jack Dempsey gave him overhis eye. And he would, he actually showed me that when I was a child before hedied. He married my grandmother during the depths of the Great Depression, hewould search for work wherever he could find it, sleeping on park benches,moving from town to town. He'd do anything he could to earn money back then,because it was so scarce. They lost their first two babies at birth due to alack of proper nourishment.


0:39:02.0 Tim: So they had twostillborn sons in a row. In the end, he overcame the perils and the setbacks ofhis life, and he became a dedicated family man, a loyal friend and a servant,really, to all. Well, how do you think that makes me feel? To me, he became aleader in the true sense of the word. He tasted the bitter without becomingbitter. That his life gives me vision and actually changes the vision of who Iam, because now I have this sense of an intergenerational self that gives mestrength and determination. Isn't that interesting how that works? So I'mexperiencing this firsthand through him. So there's this, there's a power thatcomes to you in knowing about your ancestors, when they showed character, whenthey overcame adversity, and it infuses you with vision and determination foryour own life.


0:40:12.1 Junior: And that'samazing. Thank you for sharing that. For whatever reason, the motivation thatcomes from those types of stories, it's almost visceral when you know that theyare your ancestry specifically. And so I would encourage each of us to go backand try and find stories like that in your line, because I, again, I don't knowwhat it is, but there is something about that that gives strength anddetermination. Someone like you that came before you, that shares blood withyou, did these things, that's amazing. How do you do that justice, how do youlet that vision be impacted by those that came before you? So we wanted tospend some time on that. So create a vision, and that vision can come from theidentity you have and those that came before you. Two, is create a galacticvision, not a small one. At the very beginning, David Burnham said, make nolittle plans, right? Make big plans, aim high and hope and work. And that'swhat we're talking about here when we're talking about galactic plants. SteveJobs says, don't be trapped by dogma. Don't let the noise of others' opinionsdrown out your own inner voice. It might sound trite, but I think that this istrue. Don't be trapped by dogma. We need to break free from that. Look abovethat and have a galactic sized vision. What do you think about that one?


0:41:47.5 Tim: Well, I think it'strue. And we also have to remember, Junior, that we're also surrounded bypeople who want to hold us back. They themselves don't have a vision. Theydon't have maybe aspiration in their lives, and so they want you to keepcompany with them. They're like a lobster and they want to keep you in thebucket. And so as you're trying to pursue your vision, sometimes others are nothappy about it. They're resentful and they wanna hold you back. And we have tobe careful about that too. Some people around us will help us with our vision.Some people will get in the way. That's not where we want to spend our time. Sowe, I think we need to remember that.


0:42:38.1 Junior: I saw the otherday, there was a, I won't say that it's a quote because I'll mess it up, but itwas this idea that most people want you to be the version of yourself that bestserves them. And that's true, I think, speaking in generalities. And so whatdoes that mean? It means that people will apply pressure to you so that youstay the version of yourself that's best for them. So next, after creating agalactic vision, what do we need to do? We need to simplify it and earnclarity. There are a lot of visions out there that are probably moreorganizational than personal, that are very complicated, that are very confusing.80% of employees cannot accurately describe their organization's vision. Sowhat does that tell us about vision creation? It tells us that most peoplearen't very good at it. And it tells us that why aren't they good at it?Because they complicate it. They make it confusing. They make it high volume.They make it, you know, general. So no one's going to remember. There's a quotefrom Townsend in here. Tim, you wanna read that one?


0:43:51.7 Tim: Yeah. This is RobertC. Townsend, who was a business person and CEO years ago. He said, men andwomen are complicating animals. They only simplify under pressure. Now, this isa statement. This is a valuable insight that needs to settle. You gotta ponder this."Men and women are complicating animals. They only simplify underpressure." For example, take a look at organizations. What doorganizations do if they're left to their own devices? They proliferate. Theyadd complexity. They don't naturally simplify. And we have to be on the lookoutfor that. We have to be aware that that's the tendency, and we have to workagainst that, right? So another way to say it is that a good vision is amasterpiece of compression. Well, what does this mean? This means that acompelling, powerful vision is simple. It's lean, it's penetrating because weknow that complexity works against a vision. It robs it of its power. And sowhether it's at an individual level, at an organizational level, what are youtrying to create? You're trying to create a masterpiece of compression. Onlywhen you get to that point does it really become a life-giving force, becauseyou need the clarity that comes from that and the power that comes from that.That's when it really starts to tap motivation and propel people forward.


0:45:38.8 Junior: The next piece iscommunicate your vision. And I'm gonna off the cuff change this and say thatit's write your vision, not just communicate it. So this whole time we've beentalking about your vision, your vision, your vision, okay, well, is this justan idea that you keep in your head? Is it just some amorphous, really foggything that you move toward? No, no. It needs to be specific. Write it down.There's a quote from Edward Murrow in a 1954 CBS broadcast about Churchill. Hesaid, Churchill mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. Why?Why? Why would we share this? Because words are powerful. Writing is powerful,and it forces a few things. Ambrose Pierce said this, there's a good deal of popularignorance about writing. It is commonly thought that good writing comes of anatural gift, and that without the gift, the trick cannot be learned.


0:46:37.9 Junior: That is true ofgreat writing, but not of good. Any one of good natural intelligence and a faireducation can be taught to write well. As well as he can be taught to draw wellor play billiards well or shoot a rifle well and so forth. To do any of thesethings greatly is another matter. If one cannot do great work, it is worthwhileto do good work and thinking great. The reason that I thought that this wasappropriate to put in was because writing is powerful and I'm learning thisover time. It's not enough to keep something in your head. It's not enough tojust even jot down a couple notes. It is imperative that you write down yourvision because it will help with all the other things we've talked about. Itwill help with clarity, it will help with simplicity. It will help withcompression. English Professor Joseph Williams said, clear, straight and plainspoken. It's really difficult to just say something that comes off your tongueclear, straight and plain spoken, just thinking about it.




0:47:40.4 Tim: You need a littleediting.


0:47:41.7 Junior: Yeah, you needsome editing. You need some revisions. How many times do you think you wouldedit that vision statement? Hopefully dozens and dozens and dozens. And maybeit will change over time. Maybe this stage of life, the season will change. Andso maybe that's something that you can keep and something that's a livingdocument that you can work on. And for some people this may be verystraightforward and you may be thinking, yeah, of course, I'm gonna write itdown. You have to realize, for some, perhaps for most, that does not comeeasily. It's not something that people think to do. It's yet imperative, in myopinion.


0:48:20.8 Tim: I agree, Junior. Sono first draft visions, no second draft visions. Keep on going, keep on going.Keep refining, keep iterating. That's just the process. And the compressioncomes out of that, the clarity comes out of that.


0:48:37.5 Junior: So after you'vedone that, you've written your vision, you need to embody your vision. And thisloops back to the beginning when we're talking about the wanting and willingratio. And we need to remember that visions are not dreams. Vision requireswork. And so when we have written that vision, we then go practice. We then gowork to embody that vision to the best of our ability. The next thing that willhappen is that adversity will come, you're gonna be on your merry way trying toembody your vision, and there will be a storm that comes to knock you offtrack, to get you to stop moving forward and embodying that vision, to eitherstand still or to retreat. And that's not what we wanna do. That's why thatvision becomes so important, because when those winds come that are againstyou, you can walk towards them in pursuit of the vision. If that vision isn'tthat north star that you're working towards, it becomes much more difficult tokeep going in the same direction and be persistent and be consistent. You'regonna start to wander, stand still or move backwards, all of which we don'twant.


0:49:50.6 Tim: Yeah, that's verytrue. I just wanna make one last comment about vision at the organizationallevel. And I want to talk about vision and how it relates to alignment, becausethis is just so critical. You can't align a large complex organization withouta clear vision. It's not possible. And when I say align, what do I mean? I meantwo things. Number one, that we have shared understanding. And number two, thatwe have shared commitment. That's what alignment means. It means that we haveshared understanding and we have shared commitment. You can't have thatalignment without a unifying vision. But again, the vision needs to be acompression, a masterpiece of compression, otherwise it can't do its job. If itdoes its job, not only can it align people initially, but it can keep peoplealigned. And how does it do that? It keeps them aligned throughout theexecution process.


0:50:51.7 Tim: How does it do that?It does that because it becomes the reference. It becomes what we look tofigure out what we should do or what what we should not do. So there areeconomics that are attached to vision. If you've got a good, compelling, clearvision, then that vision as a reference lowers the unit costs of makingdecisions. Let me say that again. It lowers the unit costs of making decisions.And so it creates economies of scale for decision making that allows theorganization to maintain alignment over time. How else can you do it? You'vegot to have a unifying vision that allows people to maintain that sharedunderstanding and shared commitment, and then helps them make decisions. So Ijust wanted to add that piece because at the organizational level, it'sabsolutely crucial. It performs an enormous amount of work to create andmaintain alignment in the organization.


0:52:15.2 Junior: So you can look atcreating and maintaining that vision as a real investment. What you said aboutlowering the unit cost of decision making is absolute gold. So I hope everyoneis paying attention. Very, very relevant. Okay, so to summarize, we talkedabout vision today. Vision's both motivating and sustaining. Visions are notdreams. Dreams are things we want. Visions are things we're willing to workfor. Once you have a vision for yourself, your life, your organization, helpothers get theirs. If you do not have a vision, go and get one. That's thefirst thing you need to do is create a vision. Then we make sure that it's agalactic vision, then we simplify it, then we write it down, then we embody it,and then we endure adversity as we pursue it. So we hope that you found today'sconversation valuable. There were certainly some light bulb moments for me.


0:53:09.3 Junior: We appreciate you,your time, your attention, your listenership, and we very much appreciateddoing this series on leading with character and competence. And our challengeto you and to ourselves is to embody both of those and all of theircornerstones to be high character and high competence. If you've missed any ofthe episodes, you're welcome to go back. If you want to double click on one,you're welcome to repeat and we will start up a few more episodes. I'm not sureif those short form have launched yet, but if they have, we would encourage youto go try one of those out. They're 10 minute single point lessons. If youfound value in today's episode, we'd encourage you to share that with someonewho might find it useful. And with that, we'll ask you to tune in next time.See you then. Bye-bye.




0:53:58.6 Producer: Hey, Culture by Designlisteners, this is the end of today's episode. You can find all the importantlinks from today's episode at And if you've foundtoday's episode helpful and useful in any way, please share with a friend andleave a review. If you'd like to learn more about Leader Factor and what we do,then please visit us at Lastly, if you'd like to give anyfeedback to the Culture by Design podcast or even request a topic from Tim andJunior, then reach out to us at or find and tag us onLinkedIn. Thanks again for listening and making culture something you do bydesign, not by default.

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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