Last week, I shared my thoughts on “what is your why?”. In this note, I will develop it further with an interesting story I found on the Internet about a NASA Janitor. It is said that during a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor sweeping the floor. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
“Well, Mr. President,” he replied, “I’m helping put a man on the Moon,”
Wow! When I read this I was amazed. What I found interesting in the janitor’s response is that the question was about what he did but he responded with why he did what he did. I have come to understand that the why behind what we do is more important than what we do. The janitor got it! He didn’t see himself as just a cleaner but as a contributor to a bigger vision and that is why he woke up every morning – “helping to put a man on the Moon.”
I still wonder how the cleaner got the vision so clearly. In my experience I have witnessed how hard it is to sell a vision even to a group of senior managers in an organization.
Here is the big idea of the note, the primary responsibility of every leader is to paint a clear picture of the future (Vision). Fail to do that and you will struggle to engage and empower your teams.
Finally, you have to communicate the vision. In communicating it, make it compelling, relatable and repetitive. Don’t make the mistake of thinking: I have plastered it all over the walls, and everybody knows it! No! Repeat it every chance you get.
Is the picture of success clear and exciting for you and your entire team?