One of the people I admire most about his ability to create and maintain a clear vision about what he wants and where his business—our company—is going is our CEO, Dustin Hillis. He articulates the vision, he shares it appropriately, he generates enthusiasm around the vision from key-stakeholders and implementers, and no matter what, he maintains a “find a way, not an excuse” mentality. You should have seen our company pivot in March of 2020 when the world seemed to be turned upside-down with no end in sight.
At any rate, I admit, I sometimes struggle with clarity of vision. It can be a challenge for me to not only to create a strong, specific vision but even more challenging to hold on to it through the bumps along the way. However, in working with a client yesterday and talking about vision, we had a little a-ha moment. A simple a-ha, but a powerful one nonetheless.
Your vision is really like the trip you want to take, allegorically, of course. For example, my family and I road-tripped from our old home in Salem, OR to our new home in North Fort Myers, FL. We had a final address in mind. We also had several planned stops along the way from Chicago, to Macomb, then to Nashville, and onto Orlando even before we made it to North Fort Myers.
Like any road trip, you may find your vision must have elements that are negotiable, malleable, and flexible, even if not by choice; while other parts are anchored and unwavering. Sometimes your hand becomes forced and you must call an audible—like that time our Suburban’s oil pump failed and we added an unexpected stop in Jackson, Michigan as we were forced to grab a hotel for a night to figure out what was wrong with our rig.
Other legs of your journey are unwavering—you are going to find a way to be there no matter what, even if it’s by tow truck which was how we unceremoniously arrived in Macomb. Sometimes you find that the metaphoric head-winds are in your favor and actually arrive ahead of schedule, like when we drove straight through what we planned as a three-day drive with multiple overnights, but the kids were doing so well in the car we kept going to make it to our first stop in Chicago inside of 36-hours.
What’s important with your vision journey is to be locked in and almost rigid when it comes to the components that are of significance. And at the same time, to be willing—almost expecting—to find a way around or through unexpected, unplanned redirections and blockages.
Several times on this eight week adventure we hit traffic; we crawled through construction zones; we even had to take a detour at least once. But none of these things meant we were cancelling the trip. Not one time, during these slow-downs did we even consider turning around and heading back. It simply meant, for us, that we had to navigate, to figure it out, to stay patient and to stay the course.
Ultimately, we knew the GPS would get us there even though neither my husband nor I had made this exact drive before. We knew that even if we veered off course, we had to tools to figure it out. We would find a way because we had to find a way. And so, too, with our vision. If it is one of true significance to us, turning back is not an option.
Slow down if you must. Detour if you must. But keep the destination in mind and continue driving.
 The Southwester Family of Company’s former Chairman of the Board, Spencer Hays, was known for saying “there are two times of people in this world, one that finds an excuse; and the other that finds a way. It doesn’t take guts, gumption or determination to find an excuse; anybody can locate one. It takes quality people to find a way over, under, around or right through any obstacle that stands in the way.”