By: Michael Seitchik, Director of Research and Assessment
One of our favorite cities is Barcelona. My wife and I love this city. And our favorite site is the Sagrada Familia, the basilica that Gaudi designed and begun building in 1882 – and is still not finished.

It is simply breathtaking in its scope and design. The design reflects Gaudi’s three passions – architecture, nature and religion. 

Gaudi’s vision was “a cathedral for the poor”. 

After his death in 1926, it became clear that Gaudi did not have any detailed plans. He actually would change the design to accommodate an interesting piece of stone he found in the quarry. He was constantly changing the details, but not his vision.

It is important to point out that his vision did not specify the height of the building, the seating capacity, a budget, or a completion date. It was short, memorable, and made people want to be a part of something meaningful that was bigger than themselves.  

My wife and I marveled at the dedication of the workers who would often spend hours upon hours in extremely uncomfortable positions. There were years in which most workers volunteered their time.

As Steve Jobs said, “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you”. Gaudi’s vision touches people emotionally. That’s what makes it powerful. That’s why 130 later people are still inspired by his vision.

When I coach clients on the ExPI, our multirater assessment built to help leaders understand how they can use executive presence to influence stakeholders, and ask them to state their vision I typically hear a strategic goal and not a compelling vision. Clients say such things as “double revenue in the next 5 years” or “reduce expenses by 20%”. No wonder they were rated low on such items as painting a vivid picture of what could be. Are these “visions” that would get you out of bed excited to come to work? Are these visions that “pull you in” and make you feel part of something bigger than yourself?

Disney has a simple vision – “Make people happy”. It provides a “true North” that guides people’s decisions and priorities.  And it allows for innovation to create new ways to “make people happy”. That’s how Disney went from animated cartoons to amusement parks to Pixar and continues to grow well after Walt Disney died.

Gaudi assumed it would take over 200 years to complete the basilica. His vision was a dream that would survive his own leadership. He did not have a goal, he had a reason for being.

Do you have a vision that excites others, creates devotion and inspires creativity?


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