First of all, I believe momentum is usually a byproduct of great vision … and great vision needs momentum to move forward. There is definitely a relationship between vision and momentum. For context, I define momentum as a series of wins needed to move a vision and mission forward; I define vision as the ability to see forward (or into the future).
Recently, I spent a few hours with a few church planters. During our conversation, we talked about the things that can limit (or kill) vision and momentum. As I flew home, I decided to note several vision and momentum killers often seen in the church and ministry.
A few weeks ago, I heard a ministry present their vision and dream to a group of potential funders. They shared their vision and it was passionate and compelling. All of a sudden, this group of high capacity leaders turned into a panel of “vision killers.” It was like watching the show Shark Tank as they asked questions, challenged strategy and poked holes at the viability and sustainability of the vision. This happens too often! We must avoid potential vision killers by thinking through our strategies, finding clarity and creating the momentum needed to move ahead and execute. Here are 10 Common Vision and Momentum Killers to avoid as you introduce vision:
1. The belief that vision and momentum happen in a vacuum.
Great vision only gets accomplished with great relationships. Relationship trumps vision and mission every time. Sometimes many visionaries are unable to execute because they lack the resources needed to get traction and move forward. Resources are critical but, in the course of time, relationships are more important for executing vision. People will follow you and the vision God has given you but, over time, relationship is what keeps them coming back. Relationships are what give vision lasting synergy and results.
2. Settling for the status quo.
Believing what is working today will work well in the future. Many times, vision and momentum are killed by our past and present successes. Vision dies when leaders cling to the original model or strategy and fail to modify them to reflect their current realities.
3. Living in “maintenance mode.”
Personally I think this may be the greatest vision and momentum killer. Thinking we have arrived is the beginning of a long, slow, painful death for any movement or organization. Vision never lives in maintenance and visionaries lose interest when the excitement decreases. This is why it’s so important to create a strategy that is built on a series of wins—not just a good idea.
4. Forgetting to cast vision.
As Andy Stanley says …Vision leaks and needs to be shared recklessly. Vision doesn’t “stick,” so you need to continue to cast the vision of your organization. If you don’t continue to cast that vision, it disappears from the hearts and minds of those in your organization. I’m amazed by how often vision dies because it doesn’t have relentless focus. If you cast your vision well, then everybody in your organization will “leak” that vision on a consistent basis.
5. Not effectively resourcing your vision.
If vision is important, it needs to have fuel. Vision always needs a strategy and resources. Think of Nehemiah, the great visionary. When King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah what he needed to accomplish his vision, I love how Nehemiah literally pulled a piece of paper out of his back pocket with a list of resources needed to be successful. In the same way, we must have clarity on where we’re going and what’s needed to get there!
6. Not listening.
Listen to God and listen to those most relationally connected to the vision. Sometimes we need to simply sit down, shut up and listen!
7. Lack of evaluation.
Do as Nehemiah did; take time to pause, reflect, evaluate and make mid-course corrections. Evaluation helps you do the following:
- See your progress
- Identify solutions for obstacles and challenges
- Celebrate what has been accomplished
- Rest and recharge
- Identify needed resources
- Make shifts in strategy and planning
- Rally the troops
- Recast the vision
8. Having a great vision without clarity.
Clarity is more critical than vision. Clarity is the filter for our vision. “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” —W. Edwards Deming. Most people who have vision lack clarity. Clarity is what makes sense of vision and builds the bridge between vision and reality. I often tell leaders to spend ten percent of their time on vision and ninety percent of their time on clarity.
9. Not bringing your “A” game.
Vision and momentum require hard work and excellence. Live with a Malachi 1 mindset. Vision is important and something we never want to fool with. Vision requires relentless focus, quality time and excellence at all levels!
10. Changing your mind.
Too many times momentum and vision die because we don’t remain committed or become fearful if it doesn’t work as quickly as we hoped. I have worked with several visionary leaders who have new ideas and vision all the time. I’ve seen newer vision kill new vision multiple times. Vision isn’t fast and it takes time, leadership, focus and resources. The best visionary leaders give vision time—and rarely change their mind!
Vision isn’t just built on a good idea. Vision requires time, leadership, resources and relentless focus. There are many things that can kill a vision; if the vision is truly from God, there is one who will do anything to stop it from moving forward. I encourage leaders to not only share the vision but also be certain they have a plan to execute it, move it forward and protect it!