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It’s weird how often synchronicity occurs in my life.  Last week I was thinking about great leaders, and more specifically, Martin Luther King Jr. and the lessons that can be learned from his leadership, both generally, in life, and specifically, for business.   So I started to draft this blog post.  Then, on the weekend, I saw the coverage of  the National Memorial Commemoration in Washington DC.

When Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, he had much more than a dream.  He had a vision of what a society with a true integration of races looked like.  His vision was clear, detailed and specific.  He could “see” his sons and daughters walking hand-in-hand with children who’s skin was of a different colour.  He visualized everyone sitting together on a bus.  He envisioned buildings with a single entrance for all, and water fountains which could be used by anyone with no restriction.

See Your Goal in Your Mind’s Eye

Dreams have to be fleshed out, drawn out in detail.  They must exist in full-colour, full-motion, panoramic view. The clearer the vision, the more real it is.  The more real it is, the easier it is to plan for fruition.

In this way dreams/ideas/visions become solid, possible, probable. Your ideas should be like video clips that you can play in your mind.  Works in progress that you can rewind and pause to consider a detail, edit a segment or adjust something that is not quite right.

Thus a dream become based in reality – a future reality.  You can see it happening.  You can make it happen.

Besides a Dream, A Plan

What else did Martin Luther King Jr. have besides a compelling and real (to him) dream for equality?  He had a plan.

He knew what needed to be done to make the dream a reality.  He was aware of the steps that were required, the environment that would be needed, the awareness that would have to be shared, the consciousness that needed to be expanded, the laws that required change.

And this incredible man, though he did not live long enough to see the full realization of his dream, had the power, the influence, the talent to communicate this dream to others.  To communicate it in such a way that it became as real to them as it was for him.  This is how it was realized.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve, I know that the world is not perfect, not completely free of prejudice, intolerance and discrimination.)

Scaled down, this is how leadership works on a day-to-day basis.  Yes, there are other elements involved – all the actions and steps that actually move the process forward.

It starts with the shared goals, ideas so real you can almost touch them, objectives so clear and well understood, embraced, supported and shared by everyone in the organization — this is what enables the almost impossible to actually happen.