You can’t steal second if your foot is still on first.
I love this quote. It’s visual for me. When I ask clubs what their Vision is for the next 1 to 3 years, I either get the ‘Oh Crap’ stares with the large slow blinks or some kind of flippant response about how they know where they are going, they don’t need to write it down. So, I push. I ask, “If I had everyone in this room write down what your organization’s vision statement is, would they match up?”
I believe everyone understands the concept of establishing their Vision, I mean, you are in the arena of sports. If you don’t have some concept of goals and how to attain them, I’d venture to say you might be in the wrong business. So, if you understand the concept of personal goals, what is so different in establishing your main goal, your vision, for your organization?
Those of you who have actually created a vision statement, did you do it in isolation? Has it been shared with your entire team – all staff, volunteers, parents, and swimmers? Are you making purposeful and collective progress toward your vision? Or are they just words on your website or some sheet of paper never to be looked at again?
There is a difference between a mission statement and a vision statement.
A point of clarification for me is to say that I understand each swim club has a mission statement. And that is good, but there is a difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. A mission statement is why your organization exists. A vision statement is where you are going. A mission statement doesn’t tend to change, your organization was established for a reason and that reason hardly ever needs an adjustment. Where your vision statement is only meant to last a few years. It’s your vision for the future. It should be something that you need to work towards, it’s motivational and aspirational.
There are two key factors in creating and reaching your Vision. First, the vision must be created with the leadership team. Your specific leadership team will vary, but if you have a board that board cannot do this in isolation. You must include your coaches. Same for a coach-run club, the head coach should include your main coaches and any administrative staff that you may have.
Including the leadership team ensures that your vision is robust and something all of the leadership can and will buy into. This is how you create the purposeful and collective buy-in. Everyone understands the direction, loves the direction, and takes ownership of their part in reaching that vision.
Second, you must take steps to reach your vision. If you don’t then your foot is still on first. You are treading water (surviving), but not swimming (thriving). Setting incremental goals and plans on how to achieve those goals, is how you reach your vision. You have to purposely work towards your vision, so it’s not just empty words. This is something we all intellectually understand, but so few businesses take steps to actually reach their vision. Or ensure the plans they are making are aligned with reaching their vision.
Setting and working towards your vision is a big part of building a strong culture that attracts and retains staff, members, and volunteers. Big statement? Yes, but that doesn’t make it untrue. A club that works to achieve goals and move its organization forward is typically open to development and investment in staff. They have a low turnover of staff and members. They are open to using new tools and creating efficiencies, so the focus can shift to areas of need. They spend less time putting out fires and more time proactively solving problems before they become issues. And lastly, a club that has and works toward its vision has a strong reputation because it can truly serve its members and the community.