Casting a vision

Stan Soderstrom | Aug 29, 2019

Stan Soderstrom

If you’ve ever gone fishing — or even if you haven’t — you know it’s not a matter of identifying a particular fish and then trying to catch it. You cast your line with the right bait into the right part of the water, and eventually you catch what you’re after. 

For leaders, pursuing a vision can be a bit like that. 

Ultimately, a vision consists of what an organization wants to accomplish, combined with an ambitious belief in what’s possible. That’s not the same thing as a prediction. It’s a projection — a “casting” — of existing values and goals into the otherwise uncertain future.       

In short, casting a vision is a big-picture statement of where everyone in an organization is going together. And like a line cast into the water, it won’t necessarily get the exact result you want right away. Patience and persistence are key factors. 

It’s not just your own persistence and patience. To keep people on board, your vision must be compelling. People need to believe in what they’re doing, and they need to be excited by it. They need to sense that the “big fish” is somewhere in the vicinity, even if it takes a while to show the result.  

For me, one of the best expressions of this kind of leadership comes from John F. Kennedy’s 1962 call for initiatives such as the mission to send men to the moon.  

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things,” he said, “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.” 

Notice how he acknowledges the difficulty of the task, but makes it exciting for precisely that reason — in part by expressing confidence that the people charged with such goals were the right ones to pull them off.   

I think about that moment when I consider the goals that we’ve set for ourselves at Kiwanis. From initiatives like The Eliminate Project to the growth of our youth programs, we’ve set an expectation that we’ll try to make a difference everywhere — locally, nationally and internationally. And we’ve shown our trust in Kiwanis members. 

It’s not a matter of predicting every place where kids’ lives will be changed. It’s a way of creating a culture that doesn’t rule out reaching any of them, anywhere.  

That’s the vision we’ve cast. And within it, we hope to inspire the ambitions of individual members — even creating the kinds of leaders we need to make it happen.


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