“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
“I have a dream today.” Excerpts from Dr. King’s famous speech, arguably one of the most important speeches of the twentieth century, linger in our minds like the lyrics from a favorite song. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ . . . I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. . . . I have a dream today.” But Dr. King had more than a dream. He had a vision that one day all races would live and work side by side as friends and fellow members of society without prejudice, a work that will be in progress for years to come.
So what is the difference between a dream and a vision? In his book Visioneering Pastor Andy Stanley defines vision this way: “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. . . Visions form in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo. . . Over time that dissatisfaction matures into a clear picture of what could be. . . But a vision is more than that. . . . Anyone with a vision will tell you that this is not merely something that could be done. This is something that should be done. . . . It is this element that catapults men and women out of the realm of passive concern into action.” Dr. King’s “dream” was not born out of mere passive concern; rather it was something catapulted into action, thus not just a dream but a vision.
We are all potential visionaries, though perhaps not as grandiose as Dr. King – nor others like Henry Ford or the Wright Brothers. But we all struggle with a gap between what is and what could be. For those of us in the practice of executive and professional coaching it is what we do, helping people identify that gap or discrepancy, creating a plan of action to make it happen, then ensuring the plan of action is followed through. Imagine our world today without visionaries. Where would our society be without Dr. King? And what might others be deprived of without your vision? If you’re struggling with this, find a coach who can help. Remember, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”