A Clear Vision for the Path Ahead

When we lived in Colorado, we often made trips back to see family in Missouri.  On one of those trips in November, we started out with a wonderful 70-degree day in Pueblo.  We traveled up to Colorado Springs and stopped for gas.  As I was filling up, I noticed a massive wall cloud coming quickly from the west and a sharp cold biting wind hitting my face.  My wife received a call from a friend for us to watch the weather as a storm was approaching quickly.

The next stretch of road we traveled on from Colorado Springs to Limon was US 24.  Now this is a stretch of road winding through the eastern Colorado plains that has one lane in each direction.  There also are not a lot of towns the road goes through and the trip usually took a little over an hour.  We left the gas station and I noticed that the temperature had already dropped below 50. 

Within 20 minutes the temperature had plummeted to the upper 20s and the cloud was overtaking us.  The wind whipped up and tossed our SUV back and forth on the winding road.  In another 5 minutes a blizzard started.  Snow flew so thick in front of us that we were forced to crawl along at under 20 miles an hour.  Sometimes, you could see the taillights of the car in front of you, and most time you could not.  We were part of a group of six cars that snaked slowly through the blizzard in white out conditions. 

There is a verse in Proverbs that says “where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you have ever been driven in conditions where you cannot see, you can understand how this verse can be true.  I did find out where the term white out came from.  Three hours later, when we finally passed out of the storm into clear skies, white was the only color in my knuckles as they clutched onto the steering wheel.

Sometimes organizations can lose their vision.  This could come from a lack of clarity of purpose.  It could be the result of a failure of the group setting dreams and goals.  It may come from being lost in the everyday tasks and forgetting the bigger picture of where we are going.  To combat this, many companies have created vision statements. 

A vision statement starts with a dream.  When we arrive at our destination, what will it be like?  What will we be like?  What experience will our stakeholders be able to talk about?  What will others say about us? 

That dream needs to be turned into goals.  And not just regular goals, but great goals.  I believe every one of us has built in them the desire to be great and to be part of something great.  For a credit union, it may be to reach a certain asset size, expand their territory into a certain geographic footprint, or achieve membership numbers of a certain percentage within your community.  It may be as simple as just being viewed as the best financial resource that your membership has.  In their eyes, you will be great!

The vision needs to be communicated and embraced by everyone in the organization if great things are to be achieved. This characteristic is found in every individual or group that excels and achieves great things, even at times when there are unsurmountable circumstances arrayed against them.  We witnessed this earlier this year when the New England Patriots scored the last 31 points in the Superbowl to defeat Atlanta.  At one time with 8:31 left in the third quarter, the Patriots trailed 28-3 and were given a 0.5% chance of winning the game.  I think the difference was a clear vision that every team member bought into and a commitment for everyone to do their job to fulfill that vision. 

Recently, in our strategic planning retreat, we formed the beginning framework of a vision.  Now like all visions, this one will change over time and there may be some adjustments as we move forward.  Our vision is as follows:      

                “Pactola is a leading resource in the industry serving financial institutions throughout the United States by assisting them with commercial and agricultural lending.  Our work helps our stakeholders meet their goals by:

·         enlarging their impact in their communities;

·         elevating their vision to the possibilities around them;

·         exploring options, they believed impossible in the past; and,

·         expanding their reach.

We have expressed this vision in various ways over the past few years.  We want to make credit unions able to compete head to head with large regional banks and WIN clients.  We want to be known by 80% of the credit unions in the United States who do business loans.  We want to be the best MBL CUSO that is constantly sought after for our expertise.  We want to make you better.

If you have not joined us, now is a great time to.  If you are part of our group, we stand ready to help you in 2017 to make this your best year yet in making a real difference in your business and farming community.