April 4, 2013 | Barb Carr

Three Minute Leadership: What It Takes to Create a Masterpiece. (To the Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning.)

This post was submitted by  “Captain George” Burk.  Learn more about this motivational speaker, author & writer on his website: http://www.georgeburk.com/


The following article is typed in its entirety as received from Col. Glenn Waters, USA. THE Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic, United States Military Academy at West Point, 31 March 2011.

Thank you, Col. Waters.  Highlights added.

What does it take to create your life’s masterpiece? This is a provocative question that grabs our attention. John Maxwell, in a recent article, “It Takes a Clear Vision to Create a Masterpiece,” shares his thoughts on the importance of having a vision whose crystal clarity provides purpose and direction to our journey. He introduces the paper with the story “Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral.” Its construction began in 1882 and 129 years later, it is still not completed. Best estimates are that it won’t be finished in another 15 years.

The real story, however, lies in the vision of its designer, Antoni Gaudi. Maxwell writes that he had “no illusions” that the cathedral would be completed in his lifetime.” He knew that his work and vision would be completed by those who followed him. Gaudi wrote, “There is no reason to regret that I cannot finish the church. I will grow old but others will come after me. What must always be conserved is the spirit of the work, but its life has to depend on the generations its handed down to and in whom it lives and is incarnated”  Knowing this, during his lifetime he devoted his efforts to designing the models and drawings that future generations would use to build the cathedral. From this inspiring story, Maxwell suggests the following:

Clarifying your vision. Gaudi spent over a decade fine-tuning his vision and its clarity has been the driving force behind a project that has spanned three centuries. The renowned Spanish architect understood a fundamental principle of leadership: what must proceed and how. Leaders have to define where they’re going before they begin to move.

Seeing The Vision Clearly Requires Your Effort. Clear visions must come into focus through sustained effort. For me, the whole process begins with questions I must ask myself. What are my deeply felt concerns? What are my core values? What strengths do I have? How have my experiences shaped me? These questions uncover how I am wired and what I hold dear in my life. Once the vision starts to come together in my mind, I share it with the key people in my life. These relationships refine my vision.

Seeing The Vision Clearly Specifies Your Direction.  Why should we make the effort to see the vision clearly? Because vague visions cannot serve as compelling guides to those you want to lead. Followers do not rally behind a leader’s fuzzy picture of the future. Rather, they are attracted and motivated by leader’s who can paint an instantly recognizable portrait of tomorrow.

Seeing The Vision Clearly Determines Your Priorities. Every leader has limitations. Limited time, limited resources, and limited energy. As such, nobody can have it all in life. In light of our limitations, we can each make sacrifices and scale back the scope of our ambitions. Seeing the vision clearly, helps us to prioritize which opportunities to bypass and which activities deserve our dedication. The choices we make either draw us closer to our vision or push us farther away from it.

Gaudi’s life teaches the importance of vision – its foundation in self-knowledge, the direction it provides and how it serves to establish priorities. But there is more. If one’s vision is powerful enough, it will live in others – in the inspiration it gives to others to realize it and its impact in their life. There is a Chinese proverb: “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.”

May your vision inspire you to change the lives of other people.  Remember the words of Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist: “Your vision will become clearer only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”

Colonel Glenn Waters, US Army, is an Afghanistan Veteran and graduate of West Point.  May 2013, he’ll graduate from the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He’ll transfer to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma and assume the position as the Garrison Commander. On a personal note. Thank you Colonel Waters for your service to our county and for your friendship.

Who are you really? Where are you going? How will you get there? Who will be on your team? Questions I ask about my personal and professional visions.

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