How to Manage the Tension Between Vision and RealityVision is the picture you have of a preferred future. Leadership is moving people from current reality into that vision.  The space between, well that’s where tension lives.

If you have a rubber band handy, stretch it between your two hands.

In one hand, imagine the vision you have for your company or even yourself.  In the other hand, your current reality relevant to your vision.  Now, imagine that hundreds of people are holding onto the hand holding reality.

When you increase the space between your hands, the tension you feel gets significantly greater.

Now, you have to make a decision:

  • Pull too far, and the rubber band breaks. (Hitting the people holding the hand with reality in it by the way.)
  • Move your hand with vision toward reality and give up on your dream.
  • Try to move reality toward vision and notice the unbelievable weight and resistance of everyone else. Can you move them the entire way?  Do you end up compromising on your dream of a better future (your vision) and move both to the middle?

Well, if you don’t want to give up on your vision.  You are going to have to figure out how to move all those people.

Moving People Through the Tension:

  1. Talk about your vision ALL THE TIME!  Develop language that you can repeat over and over about your vision.  When people can mock you perfectly, you have almost said it enough.
  2. Tell stories about your vision.  Include stories of people who have encountered your picture of the future, stories about people taking one step closer to the vision and how that impacted them.  Tell stories about what it will be like to arrive into the vision you have.
  3. Win or Learn.  The definition that should follow the word lose in your personal dictionary should read; “something that never happens on our quest to achieve our vision”  Each day you either win or you learn something.  And many day, it will be both.  Learn from ever setback, no matter the size.
  4. Identify the fanatics.  Surround yourself with people who can’t imagine a future void of your vision.  Find the people who talk about your vision like you do, or who will once they learn about it.  Equip them with common language to talk about your vision.  Keep them fueled with stories and celebrate wins with them.  Ask them to help you learn from setbacks.  Kick naysayers to the curb.
  5. Stay connected to reality.  Staying in touch with the current reality helps you from putting to much strain on the rubber band.  You may not be able to share the entire vision all at once.  Give the general vision, move people close enough so they can embrace the specifics later.
  6. Learn, Read, and Expand Your Capacity.  If you have the ability to lead today if your vision was suddenly reality, your vision isn’t real.  Visions are big and scary.  Figure out now what it’s going to take to lead then, and start learning.  You are the biggest limiting factor to your vision.

You must be willing to do the hard work required – set clear vision and priorities. You will see behaviors that will drive you to strengthening your business.

Here are some additional resources to help you!


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