There are more points of data, more images … and one could even argue … more insights put before us today than ever before. It would seem we have incredible resources at our disposal. And in so many ways we do.

There are certainly downsides to the volume. There are a fair amount delivered with bias or premeditated motives. Some would say the plethora of negative news has its own impact.

So does the lens through which you see it.

I don’t take my vision for granted. I’m sure, like many, I took it for granted for many years. Actually, I just didn’t think about it … which, of course, is taking it for granted! Yet, after two detached retinas (one in 2004 and the other in 2010), I have a deep gratitude for my vision each and every day.

I certainly learned the importance of the retina. In all that followed … I also learned the importance of the lens through which you see. Many patients, who undergo the reattachment of their detached retina, quickly find themselves back in surgery months later. Not for the retina … but for the lens in front of it. Cataract surgery is a common follow-up in the months following a retinal reattachment. The surgeon actually removes and replaces the lens of your eye. It’s an amazing process. And your vision experience is significantly enhanced almost immediately.

As a cataract ripens, over time, it clouds your vision. So much becomes unclear. External intervention, such as glasses or contacts, will eventually no longer help. The only thing that can make your vision clear again is replacing the lens itself. In other words … cataract surgery.

Intentionally defining your core values is like cataract surgery.

Consider it like a lens replacement! It changes how you see things because it changes the lens through which you see everything.

Core values are often referred to as our foundation. I believe this is true. More importantly, I have come to understand core values as the lens that focus our experiences. Values bring clarity. So, the question every leader needs to ask is … how clear is the lens?

It would serve leaders well to think of themselves as cataract surgeons.

Yet, for so long, many leaders have put significant emphasis on setting the “vision” for everyone to follow. All the while, core values have been treated as “soft” … nice to have … wall hangings.

Maybe we’ve had it wrong all along. Not only wrong where we have placed the emphasis … but wrong in how we have used the language.

Vision, as the term has been used, simply pointed to a destination.

It makes me think, somewhere along the way, the terminology of “vision” was hijacked. Values are the lens … and its the lens that creates the vision. The vision is all about the lens and not about the destination! On the surface it sounds like a trite play on words. But what if this redirect was of biblical proportions?

You have likely heard … where there is no vision, the people will perish. Yet, you have probably never heard … where there is no destination the people will perish. That’s because you can set out for the most incredible destination and still perish along the way! If we misunderstand “vision” then we totally misinterpret this warning.

Don’t get me wrong. I think setting forth an incredible destination is a great thing. I’m just saying … it has little to do with setting the vision. If more executives, in positions of leadership, could fully see how our understanding of “vision” was hijacked … they would immediately understand the critical and strategic nature of personal and organizational core values.

It’s from there we can all begin to understand why those who have “perished” often had set-forth an amazing destination … and in doing so … had mistakenly thought they had actually cast a vision.

Once a leader understands that the real construct of vision is imbedded in values … not in destination … I’m convinced they will be inspired to refocus the lens of their leadership. And in doing so, they will be equipped with a lens worth looking through.

Today’s post is the featured article from the July 2014 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.