Cursing Your Vision Statement

I was coaching someone a while back and asked them to tell me what their vision statement: what motivated him? When I heard the answer, I was not moved. What I heard was boring. I knew this person had passion for what he did. What happened to it?

If I ask you to tell me why you do what you do, and you are not jumping up and down a bit, getting a bit fired up, I don’t buy your passion!  Here are some ideas to find the passion in your vision statement.  They may not be for everyone, but I know they have helped some people already, so I wanted to share.

Does your vision statement put people to sleep?

Does your vision statement put people to sleep?

Why do most vision statements put people to sleep? I read a lot of vision statements for organizations, products, services, and individuals. I have my own vision statement and, of course, for Agility Street.

What will it take for you to tell me your vision statement with passion? With energy? With enthusiasm?

I wonder if you can do it? I have certainly had times in my life where I worked for organizations where I couldn’t talk about my vision in a way that people believed! I have been in that position personally as well.

Think back to when you were a kid. Yes that long ago! Remember when you were excited about something? Remember when you were almost jumping up and down excited!!!?

That is the feeling I’m talking about.

Yell Your Vision Statement

Somewhere in the process of creating vision statements we turn the statement into a boring drivel that is overly wordsmithed and tired! Instead, consider these questions: What is YOUR personal vision? What is YOUR brand? Who do YOU want to be?

Try these steps to develop a more passionate vision:

  1. Find a friend or colleague
  2. Stand on a chair (you may want to do this outside the office…)
  3. Yell your vision. Change the words if need be for the desired effect
  4. Assess how you did. Did they FEEL it? Did you? Would someone who does not know you FEEL your passion? If you ran into me and I asked you to Yell Your Vision, would you? Could you? Would I feel your passion? Is it what you REALLY want?
  5. Now rewrite your vision statement in a way that capitalizes on your passion!
Yell Your Vision Statement!

Yell Your Vision Statement!

This exercise may be tough for most people. Evoking the passion that got you interested in what you are doing, or that keeps you doing it, may be very challenging. You might realize you are not sure why you are doing what you are doing.

Repeat this process until you can Yell Your Vision with a straight face and you FEEL IT! It should feel good! It should feel right! It should sound a bit like a rant!

Note: You might find you do not have passion for what you are doing or for the product you are working on. That is okay. Realize that now that you know, you can work on it. First, find out what your passion is or find out how what you do connects you to that passion or allows you to do what you love!

Cursing Your Vision Statement

This next idea will NOT be for everyone, but since I’ve used it I felt it was worthwhile to share. I’ll let you decide.  The real point here is the same as above: what will it take for you to get that enthusiasm back?

I mentioned above that I was coaching someone and he told me why what he did was important (note that I did get an okay to write this up from him). I know this guy well–smart, creative, intelligent, passionate–but what I heard sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher… WA WA WA WA WA … WA WA WA…

Where was the passion?

I asked a few more questions and then asked, “Do you ever curse?” He did. So I asked, “What if you wrote your vision statement and cursed throughout it?” The word that was used was F#!&. Figure out what word will work for you and try it. Maybe it isn’t a curse word. Use whatever word you say when someone cuts you off in traffic (which might just be “HEY!”).

The result was improved clarity on why he was doing what he was doing. He already knew it, but not on a conscious level. This same idea was used for an organization in the financial industry with positive results as well.

I hope this is obvious, but if you use the ‘cursing your vision statement’ variation, you need to exercise a significant amount of respect and be sure that you REALLY understand what is okay and what is not. You should design an alliance with them.  That does not mean simply asking ‘is everyone okay with this’, since some people may not speak up or may agree but not feel okay with it. Don’t consider this trivial. I would never use this approach unless I was completely certain it was okay. This is especially true if you are working with multiple people in an organization. Even ‘yelling your vision statement’ can trigger unexpected responses.

Vision Statement Examples

Agile Coach–Vision Statement Examples:

  • Yelling: As Agile Coaches we want to create a world where people are not treated like IDIOTS! We are SO SICK of MEAN people treating others like they STUPID MACHINES! People are NOT MACHINES!!!! They are HUMAN BEINGS!! IF these CLOWNS would actually STOP and give PEOPLE a chance they could accomplish AWESOME THINGS!!!
  • Cursing: As Agile Coaches we want to help create a world where people are not treated like FRAKing S@*#. We are FRAKing sick and tired of people being treating like FRAKing machines. They aren’t FRAKing machines! They are human-FRAKing-beings! Smart, intelligent, creative humans who can help organizations solve all kinds of FRAKing problems in the CRAZY world we live in.

Large Beverage Company (not a client) Vision Statement Examples:

  • Original Vision Statement: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
  • Cursing: Be a F#!$ing Awesome place to work where people are INSPIRED to be F#!$ing amazing and be even better than they F#!$ing believe they can!!!
  • Yelling: Be a GREAT place to work where PEOPLE FEEL INSPIRATION! Where PEOPLE can BE their BEST and GET EVEN BETTER!!!

Find Your Passion!

Whatever approach you use, start with finding your passion, energy, enthusiasm, and then write or rework your vision statement! I’m not saying you have to keep it one of the above formats, but when you talk about it, you have to remember your passion! This is just a tool to help you get back to what motivated you in the first place!

You can do this for yourself to start, but can certainly use this for your organization as well (remember the ground rules!). You may determine you want some help facilitating a vision statement session with your leadership team, want help designing a session you will facilitate, or even desire coaching to help find your real passion! Give me a call if you want to talk through some options.

Whether you are creating your vision statement or creating one for your product/service or team/organization, your passion should give you ENERGY! ENTHUSIASM! FIRE! VIM! VIGOR!

Does your vision statement do this, or are you putting people to sleep?


Subscribe to receive emails with my new posts and Agile Safari cartoons and Follow me on Twitter or Google +  to stay in touch!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. The Johnny Dangerously version:
    As Agile Coaches we want to help create a world where people are not treated like FARGIN’ ICE-HOLES. We are FARGIN sick and tired of people being treating like FARGIN machines. They aren’t FARGIN machines! They are human-FARGIN-beings! Smart, intelligent, creative humans who can help organizations solve all kinds of FARGIN problems in the CRAZY world we live in.
    – Roman Moronie

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Jake Calabrese

Jake Calabrese is a coach, trainer, and coach-consultant working to help organizations meet the promise of agile by going beyond agile practices to address culture challenges and help teams and leaders reach and maintain high performance. He has unique expertise as an Organization & Relationship Systems Certified Coach (ORSCC), a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), and Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and as a trainer and coach for Agile Companies (helping non-software organizations use agile). Jake created the AgileSafari cartoon series to introduce humor into the more challenging issues we have to tackle. Jake uses ideas from various areas of thinking such as: Lean, professional coaching, neuroscience, psychology, facilitation, brain-based training, improvisation, agile, kanban, and scrum. Jake regularly speaks at local and national conferences including Mile High Agile, Scrum Gathering, and Agile Alliance Agile20xx conferences.

Connect Twitter LinkedIn Subscribe to RSS Feed Blog posts by this author