e cannot continue reciting our vision and purpose and feeling good about it. At some point in time we need to fold our sleeves and get to work. Purpose dictates what kind of steps we shall take. Much as our productivity is directly linked to our purpose, the productivity is governed by numbers and metrics. Purpose and vision is the beautiful story, numbers are a way to link that beautiful story to reality. There are two types of realities:
- The reality on the ground which dictates the possibility of the dream
- The reality of the dream, vision and purpose which is what we are heading to.
I have come to realize that it is sometimes so easy just to put together nice sounding words and call it your vision or purpose. I have seen people and organization frame a bunch of nice sounding words and allocate them to be their vision, or mission or purpose. It is easy to have a fake vision…but it is equally easy to have a real vision. Where the rubber meets the road however is when metrics and number are involved in bring that vision to fruition.
Metrics of Vision
Purpose of course is the original intent for what something was made or created. There is no manufacturer, or God who would create anything for nothing. Everything exists to serve a vision or a purpose. If you look at the lives of people who have made an impact in the world, whatever they did was firmly attached to a purpose.
- Talk of Billy Graham. What a man! “Come to the front and make this decision, your friends will wait on you” were his most famous lines in his preaching. How many people has he kept impacting? Those are numbers.
- Talk of JFK. I will never forget his famous moon speech, delivered nearly 10 years before man would land on the moon. How many expeditions have been made to space since then? Those are numbers.
- Talk of MLK. “I have a dream that one day my children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. How many years did it take for the dream to come to fruition? Those are numbers.
- Talk of Bill Gates. “We believe that every home will have a personal computer running windows”. How many people world-wide are currently using Microsoft Products? Those are numbers of impact.
Each of these people made headway in the world because they lived lives full of purpose. Can you imagine someone trying to stop Bill Gates, or JFK or MLK? Stop and think about that for a minute. What do you think will befall them? The truth is that people did try to stop them. But I can tell you that these great visionaries used the sheer strength of numbers to overcome.
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”. ~ Albert Einstein
From Higher Ground of Vision to Reality
So the purpose of their lives must have been heart felt. It was not just a bunch of nice sounding words put together. Even then, it is very easy to glory in the aspect of having found your purpose and live for years without fulfilling it. Purpose has to be pursued with immediate urgency or it loses its edge and glory.
I have come to find that nothing brings purpose into sharp focus than numbers do. I have also come to realize that God loves numbers so much that his language is filled with numbers, measures and metrics. Jesus talked about “counting the cost”; he talked about “planning”. I have never seen a plan that does not have numbers. God talked about “Writing the vision down and making it plain”. There is nothing on this earth that makes a vision as plain as numbers do. God loves numbers so much that he wrote a book called Numbers. He meticulously documented numbers of generations.
There are special numbers in God’s vocabulary such as 7, 8, 12, 40, etc, but I am not talking about that today. I am talking about breaking down your vision or purpose to reflect what, where, who and how in terms of projections and numbers.
The Importance of Numbers
God said that without vision, people perish. That is so true. However, there have been people with great vision and intention that lacked that stamina that would bring it to fruition. With a vision and without numbers, you tend to get stagnant.
1. Brings Reality to the Vision
I could say that my vision is to build Life Signatures Universities across Africa. That is a great vision. It is only when I start to bring into focus questions such as
- “How many universities”?
- “How much time do we need?”
- “When do we get started?”
- “How much do we need?”
- “How many people are on board?”
These numbers ground us and make us to start thinking and getting started. In answering questions related to the vision, questions that want us to quantify things, we start activating the vision.
2. Makes the Vision Tangible
Again, like we said, it is easy to get our heads in the clouds as they ought to be with dreaming and visioning…but at some point in time, we need to start making the vision seen, felt, and heard. In the language of the Bible, it is called, “The word became flesh”. Numbers are what make the vision tangible. Once you have a vision, the immediate number that should come to you is 24. This represents the amount of time you have TODAY to get something done towards that vision. All of a sudden, every minute starts counting. Before you know it, you start tracking your progress based on some numbers!
3. Create Urgency
Yes they do. When you realize that you are way past your 30’s and there is nothing tangible to your name….and you have a vision, all of a sudden you have this sense of positive urgency gripping you. If you know that you have to create a platform for your child or children and you haven’t and they are about to go to High school, the numbers will grip you with urgency. How much time do you have left to do it? How much money is involved? In fact, this urgency will involve the way you use your monies in terms of income, investments and savings. Numbers do not lie they say, and it is absolutely true.
4. Helps in Getting Organized
Numbers will teach you about getting organized. You will know how many people to hire. You will know how many departments you will have. You will know how efficient you will be or you need to be. If for example you know that you are building a project that is to impact the 6 continents of the world, (those are numbers), you will not approach that vision with the same air as you would if your project is only impacting your clan.
5. Makes the Vision Come Alive
In the process, the numbers end up making the vision come alive. You have something to rally on, something to measure with and something to track on. Without numbers, the vision remains intangible, unreachable, undoable and daunting. Numbers help you to break the vision down into manageable pieces so that you can get going!
No matter what your vision is, you need to get some numbers to back it up. Just what kind of numbers should you be looking at?
You need some numbers in terms of duration of your purpose. Two types of numbers are needed.
First, you need to find out how much time do you have to bring the vision to fruition. You will need to find out what age you will be by the time the vision comes to pass. Nothing creates urgency in you like this part.
Secondly, you need to find out how long the vision you are championing will survive. This helps you to plan accordingly for it and lay a strong foundation, building succession plans around it.
At the end of the day, people are what most worthy visions and purposes are all about. You need numbers in terms of how many people will be positively impacted. For that impact to be real, you will also need numbers in terms of how many people you will work with and build partnerships in order to be fruitful.
It is important to know what it takes for the vision to come to pass. The truth is that you might not know this to the dregs of details, but you might have some working estimates that you can use. This is absolutely crucial. That is why Jesus said that you need to “count the costs” before you can start any projects.
The vision has to channel productivity. You need numbers to measure the level of productivity towards the overall goal.
So any vision that lacks these kinds of metrics and numbers is bound to remain amorphous and will eventually die or get dormant. So let’s do some numbers. Let’s pick up pen and paper and add some numbers to our vision.