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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Monday morning Check In: 9 Vision Killers

Two weeks ago I wrote about visionary leadership and how to build a vision statement. Today I have a list of nine vision killers that will bring a visionary leader to his or her knees.
Tradition — “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

This is the structure built by always doing things the same way and resisting opportunities to try new things. Tradition can be a comfort in times of distress or sorrow, as it provides a familiar framework when all else around us seems to be in turmoil. The problem with tradition is that it can lead to stagnant thinking, a lack of creativity, and ennui in general.
Fear — “Everyone will laugh at my idea or think it’s silly.”

Fear may be more than just a fear of ridicule. It could also be a fear of failure (“What if I can’t do it?”) and even a fear of success (“My life will go crazy if this works out. Am I ready for that?”). This is a big topic and deserves big consideration. There may be many psychological forces at work, and we may find many closets of emotional and historical baggage that need clearing out.

Gatekeepers — “I won’t let you do this unless you do _____ first.”
Ever notice how someone with a small territory sets up a huge gate to go through before you can receive assistance? When I worked as an attorney, I often encountered people who had small “kingdoms” and who had set up large castle gates and moats as the price of admission into the castle. I found this attitude in file clerks, lower level paralegals or secretaries, and even university professors whose work load had been reduced by the administration. In fact the smaller the territory, the larger the admission fee in many cases.
Naysayers — “It will never work. You can’t do that.”

Just as we suffer through our own personal or individual list of vision killers, so do others. Someone else’s tradition or fear could impact our vision by spreading an atmosphere of doom and gloom or a cloud of negativity. Nothing is more exhausting than having to navigate around a negative rock in the middle of the stream or a wet puddle in the middle of the road. Naysayers eat up our time and energy by causing us to deal with negative "what ifs" and debilitating "you can'ts."

Complacency — “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
Nothing is wrong with complacency per se, but if we learn to rest in the armchair of complacency on a regular basis, then it will become harder over time to wake up and spring into action in new directions. The self-satisfaction of complacency often lulls us into ignoring deficiencies. We may rest on our laurels on occasion, but we should limit the amount of time we do so. It would be better to allow a rest for a time, but then to schedule a time to “wake up” and check in lest we become couch potatoes in our thinking.

Fatigue — “I’m too tired.”
Fatigue is weariness or exhaustion caused by labor, exertion, or stress. We also use this word to describe the tendency of metal or other material to break when repeatedly placed under stress. Fatigue can result from poor lifestyle choices and habits, such as overeating, lack of exercise, or substance abuse. Fatigue can also result from a stressful lifestyle caused by over scheduling, emergencies, and negative relationships or home environments. Without proper rest, nutrition, proper attention to physical needs (e.g., exercise), and reflection, we run the risk of fatigue.

Burnout — “I don’t care anymore.”
Burnout is a very real possibility for anyone in a service profession: family law attorneys, teachers, nurses, and general practitioners, for example. If special attention is not given to the warning signs, then burnout is a real possibility. I suffered from this affliction several decades ago, and I found it very difficult to move forward. Burnout looks much like depression. Fortunately at the time I had this problem, I happened to attend a continuing legal education workshop, and one of the speakers at the workshop presented on the topic of burnout. Once I learned what the problem was, I was able to follow certain steps that afforded me relief and allowed me to find my joy again.
Short-Term Thinking — “I want it now. I’ll worry about that later. “

Short-term thinking is the failure to consider how our choices today will impact our lives tomorrow. Short term thinking by itself without a balancing with long term goals and thinking will lead us into more trouble due to short-sightedness.

The above list may is not exhaustive, nor are the items on this list necessarily or inherently bad. My purpose in making this list was to provide items that can kill a vision if we do not pay attention. We have a message – our vision – and we need to pay attention to anything that may kill our vision.

Are there any items on this list that resonate with you?

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