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Friday, November 13, 2009

Common Vision

When have you felt the most fulfilled at work, in your current job or some time in the past? For me, it was when I was a part of an organization with a common vision.

The absolute best organization I was ever part of was NOT the place where I had the best job. I had better jobs that I liked more with other groups. This organization, however, was the place I felt most energized and alive. It was the place where we had the most compelling common vision.

I briefly alluded to this organization a few days ago when I wrote about being the Communications Officer for 8-43 Air Defense Artillery at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas (see the post here). The core group of us (about 25-30) shared this common vision: to build a battalion of 700 soldiers, equip it, train it, and move it 8,000 miles to West Germany where its PATRIOT missiles would help protect our forces from the enemy.

Our commander lived and preached the vision. We were his disciples and we made believers of the soldiers. We knew what we had to do, we knew the importance of our duties, and we had an aggressive timeline to meet. We took the 10 months the Army gave us and, through exceptional leadership, made a cohesive unit, rolling to the field every week for 16 weeks. At first, we were inept and awkward. Tasks seemed to take forever to complete. However, over those 4 months of intense, repetitive training, we built and honed our skills until we could practically perform them in our sleep.

We had our vision, we had our culture, and we made it happen. It was glorious.

Unfortunately, and perhaps almost inevitably, when we got settled into our facilities in Germany, we got into the habit of our duties and things got kind of humdrum and monotonous. Our great adventure was over.

I've looked back at that experience periodically, over the years, and wished I could recapture that spark we had. I've been in organizations that came close, but never quite made it. I've worked to recreate it in places, as well, but the current culture was just too strong and never allowed it to take hold.

What about you? Have you ever been in a group that had a great common vision? Have you ever been involved with a vision that just swept you up and swept you along?


  1. I experienced that when I had my theatre company, Mockingbird Theatre Productions. My tech director and I were creating good theatre from scratch with almost no money. When the curtain rose and the kids in the audience were transported - wow,that was an unforgettable feeling. Dan saw what I saw, and we killed ourselves to make sure the vision was realized. Certainly though, that excitement is like catching lightning in a bottle. It's hard to make it last.
    We experienced a similar feeling/vision in our early years at ArtSpace. One of my goals this year is to address the staff on how we can keep that spirit alive.

  2. That's a great example.

    I don't know if it's realistic to think that we can have these types of experiences regularly, but it sure would be great.


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