Inspiring vision, part 5: Define the future you want to create

SunriseThe fifth ingredient for creating an inspiring vision is to paint a picture of the future you want to create.

One way to achieve this is by laying out a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goal. This is the approach John F Kennedy used when he announced America’s intention to go to the moon:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

But it being vague and metaphorical can work equally well. Moses promised his people:

“A land flowing with milk and honey.”

and they followed him through the wilderness for 40 years. Donald Trump became US president by promising to:

“Make America great again.”

Achieving this building block means knowing the outcome you want to create and articulating it in a way that inspires other people.

Usually this involves painting a positive picture, as Martin Luther King did when he said:

“I have a dream… I have a dream… I have a dream…”

He did not say, “I have a problem I need to solve.”

But you can also inspire people by describing a future filled with toil and struggle. In the bleak beginnings of World War Two, Winston Churchill’s people needed to keep going. ‘Inspiration’ for them meant not giving up:

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets… We shall never surrender.”

Both approaches worked. Both were appropriate for their time. And both speakers used repetition for effect.

As Napoleon Bonaparte said,

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”

Your job, with this building block, is to bring people that hope. By painting a picture of the future you want to create.

What is the future that you want to create? Can you articulate it in a way that inspires other people to want it too?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By S. Bhaskara Rao via

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