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

Napoleon said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” After you have shown your audiences why they need to change you need to bring them that hope.

In a way, this is the easiest part of a vision to define. You know the direction you want to travel and you know why it makes sense to you. You know the outcomes you want to create. But how do you articulate all this in a way that inspires other people?

How do you articulate your vision in a way that inspires other people?

This building block is about showing people who they could become.

The usual way of doing this is to describe a future that people can aspire and look forward to. Martin Luther King did this well 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 needed his people to keep going. ‘Inspiration’ at that stage 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.

Another way to create a clear vision of a possible future is to lay out a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goal. This is the approach that 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 you can also state your direction vaguely and metaphorically, as Donald Trump did when he won the Republican nomination and the US presidency by promising to:

“Make America great again.”

The point here is not about whether or not you agree with him or not. The point is that he inspired millions of people (his audience) to vote for him, by creating a vision that was meaningful to them.

In the same way, Moses promised to lead his people to a:

“land flowing with milk and honey.”

Despite this lack of precision, or perhaps because of it, his audience followed him through the wilderness for 40 years.

There is no single right way for you to define the future state you want to create or the ‘hope’ that you can bring to your audience. Your job is to find what works for you and them, now.

If you do that well you can have a powerful impact. And this is just one of the seven building blocks of creating an inspiring vision.

Adapted from Inner LeadershipBuy the book 

Photo By S. Bhaskara Rao via

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