Uncaging vision involves meticulous articulation.
Every single word, metaphor or story that drives your vision must be carefully created if you want to have a stunning impact.
As Deborah Mills-Scofield, writing in HBR.org recently said:
Language is paradoxical. In some ways, it doesn’t keep pace with the rate of societal and technological change (e.g., TV show, carbon copy) and in others, new words are created almost daily in response to our fast-changing world (e.g., selfie, MOOC). There is a balance between using the past to understand the present and guide the future, on the one hand, and on the other, creating something fresh that leaves the old behind. We need analogies to understand the new (e.g., horseless carriage) yet they also hold us back by it constraining our thinking (e.g., horseless carriage).
So I have a challenge for you. Watch your language and the language of those around you. See what words you are using and how you’re using them. Do they help you and your organization move forward? View the world differently? Open your mind to new possibilities? Or do they constrain how you view the world?
And when you change the words, does the world change as well?
Recently, I ran into a new church planter in my hometown Starbucks. He thanked me again for writing Church Unique and was enthusiastic to share the results of their arduous process of walking the Vision Pathway found in the book. I was stunned by the clarity and eloquence of his mission to “make true disciples by being true disciples.” The name of his church is “One Life Church” and their living language vision is spearheaded by the rallying cry
“Now, we really live.” I left that day greatly encouraged that another “everyday” pastor was pressing into and wrestling through the art of word choice. Another pastor was becoming a skillful visionary.
My favorite way of capturing the thrust that language matters is found in the phrase: “Words create worlds.”
So if the words we use as leaders do indeed create worlds for our followers, what, may I ask, are you saying?
Read more from Will here.