How to Communicate Your VisionNov 28, 2022
THE SHOE PROJECT
“I’ve never owned a brand new pair of shoes before in my life”. This was said to me by a fourth grade student during a community serving initiative called The Shoe Project. They went on to ask, “Do I really get to take these shoes home with me”? I sat there stunned and in utter amazement because just months earlier this initiative did not exist. It only came about because a group of people were willing to take a step of faith and then communicate the vision and ask people to get involved.
Something life changing happens to your heart and soul when you give of yourself for the needs of others. It humbles you. It reminds you how grateful you should be for what you have. It pushes you to do more for those less fortunate. It gives you a giant dose of inspiration. It teaches you that you are valuable and your life is meaningful. It shows you how easy it is to change someone’s life for the better. Basically, it is a must for every human being.
Honestly, I will never forget the look in their eyes when I brought over the shoe box. They sat down in front of me and you would have thought it was Christmas morning. Let me backup and give you a little more of the picture and the story before we go much further.
The Shoe Project was created to provide brand new athletic shoes for children in elementary schools. It may surprise you to find out that there are many schools in the United States whose students are way under the poverty line and would never dream of owning brand new shoes. They are used to living with hand-me-downs and shoes that are either too small or too big. Shoes with holes and shoes that are taped up to cover the holes. That’s just the reality for them. The really fun part of The Shoe Project is that it brings the joy of wearing new shoes to these children who had never experienced that and it gives them a safe and warm pair of shoes of their own. I mean, who doesn’t love a brand new pair of shoes?
The idea originally came to our team as we were sitting in a conference. We heard about a church in South Carolina that adopted an elementary school every December and showed up with hundreds of brand new pairs of shoes. Our team was mesmerized by this idea! Giving shoes to elementary children is a simple, easy and powerful way to care for the needs of others. As we sat in the conference and heard the stories of this shoe giveaway, a dream and vision was birthed in us.
We came home and began forming a plan. How could this even work? What would it cost? Would the school let us give shoes away? Could we raise the money it would take to purchase the shoes? Would the parents of the students be okay with receiving these donations? We had so many questions and not many answers, but the vision of what could be drove us to lean in and figure this out.
That’s when The Shoe Project was born. Now it was time to communicate the vision.
We had a picture of what it could be in our minds, but now we needed to figure out how to make this a reality. We needed to communicate the vision. We needed to paint the picture of what the shoe project could become and how it could change lives. Andy Stanley says that a vision is “a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.” This is the tension every leader will deal with if they are going to cast a vision for their organization. Whether it's for their non-profit organization, their business, a project, their podcast, etc, a leader needs to know how to communicate that vision or it will never become a reality.
COMMUNICATING YOUR VISION 101
In his great leadership book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley says this about communicating your vision.
“A compelling vision will include these four elements:
- The problem
- The solution
- The reason something must be done
- The reason something must be done now”
If you are going to rally people behind your vision or your cause, or you are going to ask them to give of their money or time, then you have to create a compelling vision statement. Begin with the problem. For our shoe project, the problem was that there were children in our community who were going to school every day with holes in their shoes. On rainy and snowy days, they spent all day with cold and wet feet because they did not own shoes to keep them warm and dry. That’s a compelling reason for people to rally behind.
Then, you have to create a solution that will help move people to action. The shoe project's solution was $38 dollars. If someone donated that amount, it would purchase an elementary student a brand new pair of shoes and socks. For those of us who have never struggled or felt the pain that comes from poverty, this may seem absolutely crazy. But, I assure you, many children are struggling with this.
And that’s why you need to explain why something must be done and done now. In Visioneering Andy Stanley says, “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be.” You have to work hard to build a bridge with the people you are casting the vision to and paint a picture in such a way that they have no other option than to act. Just a warning, this is a lot of work! People aren’t just going to jump into action without the delicate work of crafting a compelling and moving vision. Here are some ingredients to build that kind of vision.
- Be a leader of character and integrity. John Maxwell says “people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. People buy into the vision after the leader buys into it”. You and your team must be the kind of leaders that people want to follow. Make sure you lead with character and integrity.
- Make the action worth the sacrifice. You need to make sure that it’s not only worth it for the people you’re asking to give or volunteer, but it’s worth it for you as well. If the leader or leaders of a vision are not investing in it, then no one is going to follow.
- Write it out. Before you share it with anyone, work it out on paper. Start with the problem, then write out the solution and then figure out why people should respond now. At the end of the day, if you can’t communicate it clearly, you won’t succeed. Make sure you wrestle with the words. Don’t just slap words on a piece of paper, but think them through. Use words that will clearly paint a picture of why someone needs to get involved and help!
- Tell compelling stories. Stories bring life to a vision, so think through the stories and how you can tell them to bring life. Don’t forget the details and do everything you can to paint a clear picture.
- Talk it through. Take it to your home first. Your home team is the group of people who are closest to you and who you trust. Ask them to poke holes in it. Ask them to help you make it clearer.
Once you’re done, it’s time for you to communicate this vision. Here are a few steps to help communicate your vision with as much clarity and purpose as possible.
- Create a list of who you are going to present your vision to. What groups of people will you share it with? What social media platforms will you share it on? Once you have your lists, start sharing your vision.
- Use every creative tool possible. For our shoe project vision, we used real video footage of the school we would be helping. We used pictures from the school. What creative elements can you use? Use moments that will help people feel like they are not only a part, but a crucial part of the team.
- Begin with a story that invites people into the problem that your vision is solving. Present the solution with energy and passion. Do not ever say someone’s ‘no’ for them. Do not be embarrassed or shy when it comes to asking people to join you in becoming the solution to the problem you presented.
I’ll never forget the absolute joy in their eyes. That made everything worth it. All the struggle. All the wrestling with words. All the vision pitches. All the conversations asking people to give and be a part of the vision.
If you have a picture of something that could be better and help others, don’t sit on it. Put together your vision and communicate it to your world.
Jason Raitz - Founder & Coach