Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18. How true, sobering, and scary that statement is! So many athletic departments, schools, churches, and organizations fall apart because of a lack of vision. If you want your athletic department to grow and thrive, a specific vision needs to be established. Don’t become a Proverbs 29:18 Casualty; establish your athletic department today!
This post will be more philosophical than many of our others. However, we hope it will be extremely practical for all of our readers.
Here is our four step process in establishing a vision for your athletic program.
If you have any ideas on how to establish or enhance vision in an athletic department, please comment. We value your input!
Identify Your Vision
This sounds pretty obvious, but many athletic departments do not have a particular vision of who they are or what they do.
Identifying your vision can start with a mission statement. Your mission and your vision go hand-in-hand. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to mesh the two together.
Either combine your mission and vision statements together or list them side-by-side in your athletic manual.
How do you identify your vision? Just think about what you want your athletic department to be. What principles do you want to emphasize? What do you and your school administration view as the value of athletics? How far do you want athletic program to go? To what extent do you want athletics to be a part of your students’ lives and culture?
All of these are great questions that can help in identifying your vision.
Articulate Your Vision
Once again, Proverbs 29:18. Your athletic program will perish in the absence of true vision. It’s not good enough for you personally to have a vision; you need to articulate that vision to your athletes, their families, and the overall community.
A good way to articulate your vision is through speaking opportunities. Whether it is at school orientation or in a pre-season parent meeting, use any opportunity you have to speak to your parents and families as a chance to articulate your vision.
Your kids may find it foolish, but you need to preach your vision to your athletes day in and day out.
You can also articulate your vision through different athletic department themes from year to year.
Later we’ll discuss the importance of a good athletic department theme. A theme without an articulated vision is like a car without a driver.
Defend Your Vision
Your vision, especially a Biblically based one, will be under constant attack.
These attacks can come on all fronts, but they are most dangerous when they come from those close to your athletic department.
When Nehemiah and the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, they were invited to partner with their surrounding neighbors. However, Nehemiah (a man of true, godly vision) saw through their enemy’s words to their motives. They wanted to keep the Israelites from finishing the wall.
Just as Nehemiah defended the Israelites (physically and spiritually), we need to be ready to defend our vision from those that would harm it.
There probably won’t be any all-out attacks on your athletic department and your vision. There may, however, be a few that would undermine it from within.
Make sure your coaches are all on board with your vision. If you’ve been articulating it, then they should know which direction you are pointing.
We’re not advocating being suspicious of your coaches. We are advocating being a vigilant guardian of your vision. Some people within the program may be counterproductive to the direction you want the program to go. This will require wisdom, discernment, and honesty on your part, as it may be difficult to separate your vision for your department from a prideful, “my way or the highway” mentality.
Lead in Context of Your Vision
Vision rises and falls on leadership. If you and your administration have a set vision for your athletic department, then you need to lead in context of that vision.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren Bennis
Vision is future-oriented. Very few of our athletic departments are currently living out their visions.
Vision changes from school to school as well. Our vision for athletics at VBA is what many would consider status-quo. However, we’re still young and growing. Once we reach our desired size and scope, we’ll re-evaluate our vision.
Since vision is future-oriented, the athletic director needs to be a custodian of that vision. You need to positively show others where you aspire to be.
“A leader is a dealer in hope.” Napoleon
Although this quote comes from one of history’s leading narcissists, Napoleon understood the value of a future-oriented vision. You need to lead your athletic department in the hope of attaining your vision.
So, vision. Do you have one? Is it established? If not, get to work! Don’t let your program be a Proverbs 29:18 casualty.
Do you have any other ideas to establish or enhance vision in an athletic department?