vision without execution

By July 25, 2014Leadership

Thomas Edison was a dogged man. From his mind came things like the phonograph and the first commercially-viable incandescent lightbulb. But they didn’t magically drop from his mind to reality. In the case of the lightbulb, the number of failed attempts is legendary.

But he didn’t quit.

Thomas Edison once said that “vision without execution is hallucination.” Three key words emerge from that statement:

  1. Vision.
  2. Execution.
  3. Hallucination.

Vision is a popular topic for business leaders and pastors, as well as football coaches and politicians. We write vision statements. We talk about visionaries. A simple definition of vision is “to see a preferred future.” This preferred future could be for your family, your ministry, or team. It’s how you want the future to be.

Not everyone who sees a preferred future is by default a visionary.

The second key word in Edison’s statement is execution. Edison didn’t think the incandescent lightbulb into existence, though it did take concentrated thought. He acted. He attempted different configurations and elements and he failed … often. And when he found the right strategy, he continued to refine it.

Execution is the other side of vision.

Without execution, a “visionary” is only a person who is hallucinating. They like the idea of being called a visionary but lack the willpower or work ethic to do the hard stuff of executing a vision.

I believe every good and decent person who becomes a parent looks at their newborn with a sense of vision. They see not just a toddler but a teenager or grown adult who is honest and kind and respectful and hard-working and successful … the list could go on forever.

That vision is important. Children need someone to see beyond their current pimples and other imperfections to what they could be. They need someone (especially their parents) to believe in them.

But vision alone will not shape their future in the way you hope it will be.

That takes execution. If you want them to be honest, you will discipline them for being dishonest. If you want them to be kind, you will model kindness to them when their immediate action makes you want to scream. If you want them to love God, you will love God and put them in environments where they can discover God’s love.

Vision without execution is hallucination.

Newborns don’t magically turn into healthy, well-adjusted, mature adults.

The same is true for your business or church. Vision without execution is hallucination. Is there discipline beneath your dreams? Do you have a roadmap that outlines how to get from A to B to C?

If you leave it to chance, you will likely end up seeing things that are real and you won’t end up where you wanted to be.