I attended Baylor University and studied Finance and Entrepreneurial Management. At the time I really had no idea of what I would do when I graduated. How many know what they want to be “when they grow up”? To be honest, I wasn’t really ready to grow up either. I enjoyed my afternoon hunting trips, lunches at the girl’s dorm with friends, intramural sports several times a week, and summers working on Table Rock Lake. As I approached graduation and knew I had to begin thinking about what I wanted to do after college, I asked my Entrepreneurial Management professor Flynn Bucy for some ideas. It was then I was first learned about how a vision for the future could help direct my current actions. I had shared with Flynn that I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. He asked me to describe what success looked like at age 70. It was much easier for me to paint a picture of what a successful career would look like at 70 than what I could do at 23. He suggested that I begin with a vision of success of the end of my career and begin working backwards. If I could describe what success looked like at 70, could I describe it at 60, 50, 40, and so on. As I did this I was able to narrow my career options and help me choose career options that fit my interests and provided a path to reach my goals.
In 1996 I had been working for a mid-sized company frustrated with the lack of direction for the business. I read an article published in the Harvard Business Journal written by Jim Collins entitled Building your Company’s Vision. This article described common characteristics of lasting great companies. Companies that consistently out performed others over many business cycles shared a common theme of maintaining a clear Vision or picture for all to follow. Again, I was inspired to describe what success looked like for our business. Two years later, I had the opportunity to write the business plan and begin the journey of building a team, making physical changes to the facilities and begin the effort of steering our business to a Vision for the future.
In 2004, the responsibility of leading my young family began to occupy my thoughts. I had two boys (6 and 4) and a daughter (2). The years were moving fast and before long they would be grown. It was only natural to apply some of the same visioning tools that I learned in college and practiced in my career to begin with the end in mind and start to work backwards. What does a successful family look like? Can I identify the things our parents practiced that we would like to practice in our family? Are there other families in our community that we look up to and inspire us? What are the characteristics that can help us describe a successful family? Developing a vision for your life or for your family can provide the inspiration and direction that you need to keep you on the right track. Take a moment and simply jot down some of the characteristics that you would aspire to live to. Pull those into a statement or a few sentences that provide a clear picture of where you are going.