If you want people to listen, talk. If you want something done, write it down.
One morning, my daughter came to me with a brilliant idea (yes, I’m biased) about a ballet recital. She loves ballet, wants to be Clara and is very creative. So, she began to share her goals and dreams with me. Her story beings with two friends who stumble into a time machine. As they travel back in time, they see dances (folk, tap, jazz) from each time period. Of course, the story also takes the time travelers into the future marked by various modern dances. Finally, the team returns to the present with a concluding number involving the whole company. I thought, as ballet recitals go, it was a great idea.
I asked if she was going to share it with her teacher. Of course, she wanted to do that. But then I asked, “do you really want to see it happen?” She looked at me, puzzled and wondering if it might be possible. After a moment, she said she would love to see this recital become more than an idea. She wanted to see it on stage!
At that point, I shared an important leadership principle with her. “If you want people to listen, talk. If you want something done, write it down.”
There are a few reasons for this…
Writing it down helps you think it out.
Talking things out is typically the easiest part of vision development. Brainstorming, getting ideas, etc., are fun and exciting. Moving your idea from dream to implementation will require thoughtful processing of information, needs, goals, potential obstacles, etc. Writing it down will help you think through all of the moving parts. It’s hard, but crucial.
Writing it down shows others that you have thought it out.
If a vision is to be implemented, others will need to understand, embrace and get behind it. Typically, they want to know that you have done your homework. The common phrase, “talk is cheap,” is never truer than when you are trying to enlist people to implement a vision. Handing a prospective team member a written explanation of what you want to see happen shows them that this is more than just a bright idea off the top of your head.
Writing it down helps others follow.
Once people have bought into the vision, they want to know what they need to do to make it happen. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Regardless of how much they believe in you, others can’t implement a vision without knowing what they need to do. Writing things down helps those who believe in you, follow you.
If you just want people to hear your ideas, talking is more than sufficient. Your ideas will be heard—maybe even valued and applauded. However, unless your ideas go from verbal to clear, thoughtful, written communication, your vision will probably not come to fruition. If you want people to listen, talk. But, if you want something done, write it down.
So, I told Corinne to go and write down her ideas. We arranged a time in a few days to talk about her plan over ice cream. Then, we will edit, rewrite and finalize it so that when she shares it, her teacher will know that she has carefully thought about this. And maybe one day, we’ll see this ballet recital happen.