You live your Mission every day. You incorporate your Core Values or Philosophy into all you do. But what about your Vision?
Your Vision is your aspiration. It is how the library will be perceived in an all-perfect world. Although the world is not and will never be all-perfect, if you aren’t moving toward achieving it, your Vision can’t come to pass. It remains wonderful words. A dream that has no hope of becoming real.
So how do you incorporate a goal that won’t completely happen? As always, start small. Develop a plan to take you one step closer to achieving it. When that’s done, review your Vision and determine the one part you will focus on next.
Consider this sample Vision:
The Blank School Library Media Program is the center of collaborative learning, producing creative students who have an appreciation of literature, critical thinking skills, and a respect for others and self, and who are prepared to make a contribution to the world.
First, identify the key concepts of your Vision. In this example, these would be: collaborative learning, creativity, literature appreciation, critical thinking, respect, and possibly activism. It’s a formidable list.
Since collaboration is needed for so much, this is one good place to begin. What do you need to have the library be a center for collaborative learning? Look around your library. Does it promote collaboration? How is the furniture arranged to encourage that? Are there resources that would help? How can you showcase them so teachers and students will use them?
Now that you know what you want to achieve, create a plan to get you there. Will there a be a cost associated with it? Can some of the work be done for free? Can you fundraise? Who are your logical allies? Who will you need to convince? How can you sell it?
The three-step process Paul B. Thornton puts forward in Leaders: Clarify Your Ideas Before Communicating Them, with some modifications, can help you turn your ideas for achieving your Vision into reality.
Step No. 1: Clarify your thinking – You begin this process when you determined which part of your Vision you will focus on. Take time to think about what you want to do first. Yes, there is so much to do, but thinking is doing in this case. Get clear about your priorities, what you have time for, and what might make the biggest initial impact (early wins are helpful for motivation!) Then before going forward, test it out with allies and those you trust.
Going back to the earlier example, you might ask a teacher ally if they thought the library promoted collaboration and how it did so. Speak to one or two students who use the library frequently. Do they think it is comfortable to collaborate in the library? What, if anything, would make it simpler? How close are their ideas to yours? Share what you are contemplating. Do they like it? Have other suggestions? Fold any new ideas into your planning.
Step No. 2: Prepare Your Message – As Thornton says, you need to engage emotions and address “heart and head.” Think about why would your audience want this? What would appeal to them (and what’s the emotional appeal)? Hit the big idea quickly and don’t give too many details. They will ask if they need it.
Thornton also suggests blending optimism with reality. Too much optimism makes you sound like a dreamer. Too much reality, and it’s likely to sound overwhelming. Prepare questions that focus your audience on their values and priorities and show how this will mesh with them. Again, try your message out with your allies and make any necessary modifications.
Step No. 3: Deliver Your Message – You have worked long and hard at this. Let your passion and conviction show. Thornton says to make your idea visible, dramatic, and consistent. Use pictures of libraries that have achieved what you want. On the create a space that promotes collaboration example, you could rearrange the furniture to show what the changes will look like.
Don’t let your Vision be just a dream. When you make a plan, create a lesson, consider a new project, look at your Vision and remember what you are always working toward. Every step brings you closer.