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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Vision, A Prescription for a Better

Today was a Teacher Work Day as we prepare to welcome our students back from our winter break. I was selected to be one of 16 people to help our school develop a new vision statement for our school.

I was torn all day long. I have led these kind of meeting in my past life in ministry. I enjoyed conducting the meetings, likely because I was young (in my 20s) and it was new to me. I was good at differentiating between core beliefs, vision, mission, goals, roles, and objectives...and in more than just a symantics type of way. After leading dozens of these kinds of meetings for different non-profit organizations, I became burned-out on the idea, because most groups are never able to give their vision wings to fly. Unfortunately, I have found the same things to be true in my educational organization experiences too. Many (wo)man-hours are spent developing a quality vision but, as was restated today, too many times we get them written down, put in the notebook, and then placed on the shelf...never given life.

I believe in order to give a vision the wings to take off and make a difference in the atmosphere of an organization the one key ingredient that is usually missing is the ability to communicate the vision with passion. The ability to inspire people is a talent that not many people possess. It is more than providing feel-good stories, it involves the ability to create a sense of urgency among the people involved in the organization (the stakeholders). It's not so much what will happen if we do this, it is what will happen if we fail to do this that motivates and inspires. Tony Robbins (in his book Awaken the Giant Within) has said people will do more to avoid pain than to attain pleasure. It is the same idea in communicating an organizational vision. Explaining what our students will get by focusing on our vision will not be as effective for most "stakeholders" as helping them understand what our students will miss out on by not focusing on our vision. It is a Plutarch method of communication seen in On the malice of Herodotus.

In respect to the new byline of asking questions to begin conversations...
So what are your thoughts? Are people more motivated by avoiding pain? What is your experience?


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