“Our country is a special place, because we Americans have always been sustained, through good times and bad, by a noble vision – a vision not only of what the world around us is today but what we as a free people can make it be tomorrow.” —Ronald Reagan
When Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President of the United States in January 1981, there was widespread domestic malaise. The nation suffered from high inflation, scarce jobs, and low morale. Yet Ronald Reagan immediately took office and began to talk about a new dawn, morning in America, better days ahead, and the proverbial shining city on a hill.In reality, the country was no different on inauguration day than it had been the day prior. Yet President Reagan proposed a new, ambitious vision, and so America’s perception of its own future was entirely, and immediately, different. The images of reclaimed greatness he envisioned for the country made others believe that restoration was possible, not only for the future, but that change was already taking place. America wanted desperately to believe in itself again and in the promise of its future. Through words initially, then subsequently backed up by policy and action, our 40th president made that vision for America a reality.
He was a man of vision and knew how to articulate that vision in compelling, inspiring ways. Ronald Reagan, known as the Great Communicator, was once quoted as saying, “Most often it’s not how handsomely or eloquently you say something, but the fact that your words mean something.” He knew that selecting the right words was important, but backing words up with actions was essential. He was successful because he created a vision, articulated the role everyone would play in it and showed how they would benefit from being part of it.
When the nation faced challenges, President Reagan always refocused on the bigger picture and kept working toward the overall goals and vision. His themes and messages were consistent and clear. Rather than trying to tackle a dozen problems, he focused primarily on two: revitalizing the economy and bringing an end to Communism. He tied those themes into everything he did and everything he talked about, and he kept America focused on those goals, articulating how they fit into his overall vision. As he did, he reminded us of the greatness of which we were all a part, and subsequently, he moved our nation and our world forward, both economically and through the expansion of freedom, realizing both primary goals he had envisioned.
President Reagan motivated the American people to embrace and support his vision for America by inspiring them to share in his desire for renewed pride, patriotism, and prosperity. He connected each one of us to something bigger than ourselves and cultivated a drive and desire to sacrifice as needed and serve and support whenever asked. That created devotion, loyalty, and commitment to an inspired, shared vision.
Ronald Reagan’s life and legacy personified vision, both in individual relationships and on the national and world stage. Clarity, consistency, and a contagious optimism filled his words and were validated and reinforced by his actions, both on and off camera.
Do you see how the power of one man’s vision had the capacity to change an entire country — and then the world? President Reagan’s visionary leadership and optimism for the future not only gave Americans confidence in his capacity to bring about positive change but, of equal or perhaps even greater importance, he inspired Americans to believe in themselves and to dare to dream—and dream boldly—once again. Ronald Reagan led with expansive vision and an optimistic view of the future, a great model for us to follow. He proved that with visionary leadership, anything is possible.
I challenge you to “Lead Like Reagan” - create your vision, take action to fulfill it, enlist support, and take aim, confidently knowing where the target is and having a plan, the skills, and the team to reach it. Although everyone’s exact vision is uniquely different, the power to turn vision into reality is exactly the same.
For more ideas on creating a vision and setting expansive goals, read “Lead Like Reagan: Strategies to Motivate, Communicate and Inspire” written by Dan Quiggle, published by Wiley and available in Hardcover and Audiobook.