Your Vision Casting May be Turning People Off

Your Vision Casting May be Turning People Off

Vision is critical.  It is the invisible motivation that brings people together to accomplish something special.  Vision is able to bond people together that are different from each other.  It unifies and creates movement.  When vision is strong there is clear focus.  Energy is released in increasing measure when vision is cast effectively.

Unfortunately, vision is often cast poorly.  Poor vision casting is the cause of more problems in organizations that most people realize.  Without the invisible motivation of vision, people seek alternative directions that lead to confusion and conflict.

Anyone that desires to accomplish a goal through people must develop the ability to cast vision effectively.  Whether you are a pastor of a church or a business leader, your ability to communicate your vision for the future will greatly impact your success.  But vision casting is just as important to a Boy Scout leader herding pre-teens or a mother who is getting her family ready to go on vacation.  We all find ourselves casting vision.

The question is whether or not we will cast vision well.  For this to happen we must become aware of how we tend to cast vision and the impact on other people.  As a pastor who planted many churches, I thought I was greatly skilled at casting vision.  Each time I preached a sermon, there was a vision component where I sought to help people see a preferred future.  I even got myself excited when I was talking about vision.  I could feel myself getting motivated and energized as I talked about what is going to happen and how great it will be.

It wasn’t until much later on in life did I discover that sometimes my vision casting was actually turning people off!  I thought I was getting people excited about the future, when in reality, my words were turning people away.  What was hurting my ability to cast vision was my lack of understanding on how people connect with vision.  Not everyone connects to vision like you do.  For me every opportunity to cast vision was about climbing another hill, knocking down a wall, accomplishing the next great thing.  It was a revelation to me that this didn’t connect with others the same way it connected with me.

Relational awareness theory teaches us that people are motivated by three main things:  people, performance, and process.   When someone is strongly motivated by people, they have filters that screen out anything that is unrelated to how things impact people.  For instance, if I am casting vision about building a new church building and I am describing how great this will be when we can reach more of our neighbors and have special events and experience wonderful worship, there are some people who hear something quite different.  What they hear is that it will be more difficult to find their friends.  They may feel fearful that they church they love will change and relationships will change.  They might think, “It is getting harder now to speak to the pastor.  What will happen when the church gets bigger?”  They filter what is being said through the filter of people.  That is what is most important to them.  If I know that, I could speak vision that they would find motivating and avoid turning them off.

Because I am motivated by performance (motivated by accomplishment and growing and making an impact) I tend to cast vision in a certain way that motivates other people motivated like me.  Those people give me great feedback, so I think I am succeeding in casting vision – they are getting it and are with me.  The problem is that not everyone is with me.  Some people are motivated by process.  They are the kind of people that want to be sure that everything is done right and that what is being said is backed up with research and facts.  That is not something I naturally do.  Sure, I want to be accurate, but what is more important to me is that people see what is possible.  Process people see my kind of vision casting as wishful thinking and overly optimistic.  Why?  Because I normally don’t back up what I am saying with studies nor make conservative estimations especially when it comes to figures.  It is easy for a process person to write me off because of the words I am speaking.  They may not be against the vision, but they can’t support a vision that is not rooted in facts and research.

We don’t all connect to vision in the same way.  What is most important to us is different.  If we know this, we can adjust our language and how we cast vision so more people can connect to the preferable future that we want to cast.

Here are three ingredients that we should remember when we cast vision so that everyone listening can catch it and connect to it.

  • Make sure you give thorough data that is accurate, citing sources, and how you came to your conclusion. Don’t overstate your case and be logical.  By doing this you will connect with process people.  You don’t have to do this all the time but have the data available in written form so they can check it out and verify.  People that are motivated by process want evidence that is verified before buying in.
  • Make sure you consider how the vision will impact people, both positively and negatively. Communicate how the vision will help people.  Use stories as these people connect emotionally better and can picture the future better with stories.  Be honest about the obstacles that might impact people negatively and share how they will be overcome and how you will care for people through it.  Those who are motivated by care for people need to know that you have thought through the impact of the preferred future on other people.
  • Make sure you challenge people to engage in something worthwhile. Is this vision worth investing our time and effort?  Share the difficulties and how they will be overcome.  People who are motivated by performance want to make a difference in the world and will connect with your vision.

You can use these three points as a grid to evaluate your vison casting.  Because people are motivated in different ways, you will connect with them all if you hit on all three motivations.  The reality is that we all are concerned with all three of these motivations but typically one is more important to us than the others.  Effective communicators will diligently and intentionally connect their vision with everyone in their audience.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:18).  Where there is poor vision casting, the people perish too.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.