Inspiring vision, part 6: Call on higher principles, values, or ideals

Apollo 15 Moon Landing - James IrwinWhen you want to inspire people support you, then as well as describing what you want to create, it is also important to explain why it matters. This is the sixth ingredient for creating an inspiring vision.

For example, when John F Kennedy announced America would go to the moon he not only described what they were going to do, he also explained why it mattered:

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”

In 1771 a disagreement over tax triggered the Boston Tea Party. But what sustained America’s War of Independence was the underlying principle of whether Great Britain had the right to tax its colonies. And it was principles, not tax rates, that were enshrined in the eventual Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

It was principles (of liberty, equality, fraternity) that inspired the French Revolution.

It was principles (“No person may be held indefinitely without trial”) that led Britain’s barons to stand up to their bully king and demand the historic new laws of Magna Carta.

People take action to uphold principles.

So as well as telling your audience what you want them to do, tell them why it matters, the principles it upholds, the ideals it stands for.

Then they will help you build your vision, because in doing so they will be building themselves.

What are the greater principles that underpin and drive the work you do each day? What do you serve that is larger than yourself? What kind of a world are you creating? Is that how you want to be spending your life?


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

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