I had the opportunity to attend a conference yesterday with a few other members from the Kerith team. The speaker was a man called James Emery White, pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in North Carolina. He spoke very well on various aspects of church life, but there was one quote that particularly stood out for me. It was a quote from Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM on how he made the company so successful:
IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream – my vision – was in place.
The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.
The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realized that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there.
In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.
From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for the difference.
Every day at IBM was a day devoted to business development, not doing business.
We didn’t do business at IBM, we built one.
His reasons, put more concisely are:
1. A clear vision of where he wanted the company to be.
2. He understood how a company like that would have to act.
3. The company then acted like that from the outset.
I think this is incredibly profound. Obviously, at a church leader’s conference, our staff team were asking questions like “what would our church look like if it doubled in size?” “Do we act with the vision and values of a church that size, or are we staying in a comfortable place at the size we are?” But I believe this principle has a much wider reach than that.
Do you have a clear vision of where you want to be? Who you want to be? Perhaps you want to be known as someone who exudes integrity or diligence. Then act like it from the outset! It sounds so obvious but I really don’t think it is. When your ‘end-game’ is so far away, it can be surprisingly easy to substitute a vision or value for something else…it can wait can’t it? It can certainly be a challenge; at least for me anyway!
I’m certainly feeling challenged today. Time to start acting like the person I really want to be rather than just trying to work towards it.
What do you think about this quote? Does it resonate with you?