Years ago, just before I turned 13, my family traveled to Arizona to visit my grandparents in Prescott. While there, we decided to journey upstate and camp on the rim of the Grand Canyon. What an experience! The scenery was spectacular. It was a whole different world for this country boy who had rarely traveled outside of the Southeast.
One morning as I was looking up into the mountains, I saw a sheer cliff jutting out. My uncle noticed me staring at the mountain and asked what had caught my attention. I pointed at the stone structure. I have always been a bit of a thrill seeker. So, I wondered aloud if it would be possible to hike up to it. Within minutes, not only had my uncle accepted the challenge, but he had rounded up his son, my two brothers, my dad and my other uncle to join us on the precarious hike up to the rock abutment.
From our camp, we estimated it would take 45 minutes to an hour to get there. We reasoned there would be no need to take extra food or water. We set off on our “short” hike, and we hiked…and hiked…and hiked. Before we knew it, we had hiked for six hours. What was odd is that we never seemed to arrive at what we felt was the right spot. Several times we thought we were there, but when we looked down, it never seemed the same as the destination we had set out to reach. Truth be told, we had no idea where we were. It seemed we had hiked into oblivion. We were lost, and it was not a good time to be lost. It was very hot, and we hadn’t brought extra supplies with us. Worse, we were unsure of the way back. We were also aware there were forest fires on the backside of the mountain. From the haziness in the air, those fires were getting closer. There was no doubt in any of our minds that we were in trouble.
Just when it seemed we would spend the night on the mountain, we stumbled upon a road where a park ranger stopped and took us back to our campsite.
Moral of the story: Without a specific vision and purpose, you aren’t in control of where you’re going. You’re simply “going.” As a leader, you must be careful not to let the whims of the moment determine your direction. It is imperative for your success and the confidence of those who look to you for leadership that you have a focused vision—one that your team understands and is willing to follow. It makes no sense to create a vision that your team does not support, and then instruct them to, “Go and implement.” Your vision must not only be one that your team buys into; it must become one that they own.
I left college after my first semester. I was homesick and convinced that my parents, my friends and my church all needed me. As I looked back through my rose-colored glasses, I was sure I would go back home and be a somebody, not the nobody I felt like as a college freshman. But that world had changed—just like the world around you will if you refuse to move on. It was soon clear to me that I couldn’t walk boldly into the future while looking back over my shoulder. It only took me one semester at home to realize the past is a great place to learn but a terrible place to live. When the future looks unsure or the road is challenging, the past will appear to be fully in focus. Its siren call constantly beckons you to your past.
As leaders, I challenge you to spend the next few weeks creating your vision, refining it and getting buy-in from your team. After all, a successful 2022 begins with a clearly defined vision. Start now.
With over 40 years of experience in all facets of the floor covering industry, Scott Humphrey serves as CEO of the World Floor Covering Association. He works to ensure the success and profitability of floor covering dealers and to represent their common interests. He is an advocate for change and passionate about servant leadership.