3 Reasons People Opt-Out of Powerful Vision

Frustrated that you feel like you’re casting an incredible vision…but nobody seems to be following?

It’s happened to all of us.

Usually, when a leader casts vision and it doesn’t ignite people’s imagination, there’s a good reason. Sure, it could be you have a bad vision or a bad plan of action. But let’s just assume you’re past that. You’ve got a great vision. It just didn’t ignite people.

There are times when all of us cast vision for something we’re excited about but hear crickets.

Here are three common pitfalls I’ve noticed when that happens.

1. You didn’t create a deep sense of urgency

Often the difference between attention and indifference is urgency.

Next time you’re on a plane, watch what happens when the flight attendant reviews the emergency oxygen and evacuation procedures.

Answer? Not much.

Most people are tuned out, dozing, reading or otherwise distracted. I’ve always felt for flight attendants. I’m sure they realize most people aren’t listening. Some have even adopted the monotone of a person who is saying something for the thousandth time to a disengaged audience.

It’s not that the information isn’t important, it’s just that it doesn’t seem urgent.

Why? Very few people actually expect the plane to crash.

When urgency is low, so is the motivation to listen and respond. 

Just imagine the same announcement mid-air during an episode of luggage-crunching turbulence. How attentively are people listening now?

The only thing that’s changed is urgency.

Somehow information that was of possible use at some point has become essential at this point – maybe even life-saving. You’re going to remember and act on every word you can.

Leadership is no different. You might be sharing what you think is critical information with your team or entire organization, but if there’s no urgency, the motivation to listen to and act on it is low. Very low.

That’s why effective leaders learn to establish a sense of urgency when they speak.

While there are many factors that make up effective communication, leaders almost always communicate with a sense of urgency. Urgency creates a hearing. And urgency demands a response.

How deep is the sense of urgency when I communicate? 

If the answer is ‘not very’, then don’t be surprised when people fail to respond.

2. You focused on the what, not on the why

As a leader, you get really excited about what you’re doing, but you take why you’re doing it for granted. You know, and you assume everyone else does too.

One of the best communication techniques you can adopt is what I call the why sandwich.

In any vision communication piece (talk, email, blog post):

  • Start with why
  • Talk about the what
  • Touch briefly on the how
  • Close with why

This simple formula connects with people again and again.

Why unites. Why reminds us why we do what we do and what unites everyone in the room. It calls us back to the mission we all agreed we were on.

What and how divide. People who agree on the mission might disagree on how to accomplish or even what to do.

So if you only talk about what and how, you tend to divide people as much as you unite them. But it’s deeper than that.

Even if everyone agreed on what and how, the agreement can be followed by a so what, as in, ‘well, that’s great, but so what? Why should I care???”

Starting with why and ending with why remind people what’s at stake, why it matters and why all of this is so critical.

Simon Sinek is right, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

So start and end with why. Always.

3. You didn’t ask for a response

I’ve been caught on this too many times.

A friend of mine who heard me cast vision around raising money once told me “Carey, you did a wonderful job inspiring and informing. You did a poor job asking.” He was completely right.

You know why?

I was afraid.

I didn’t want to ask people for money. Even though it was for an amazing cause. Think about it though: ultimately your fear of asking people for things is selfish. Mine was.

I wanted to be liked more than I wanted to be effective.

Big mistake.

Ask. Tell people (specifically) what you want them to do. People respect a call to action.

Be specific, as in ‘What I’d like everyone to today is X.  What that means is Y. So will you respond? The cause is too important for you not to.

Yep, that’s bold. But guess what happens when you specifically call people to action?

People respond.

> Read more from Carey.

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Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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