Inspirational Lessons on VISION From the 3 Little Pigs
In this episode, we analyze the transformational effects of setting a powerful vision. Using the 3 Little Pigs story as a case study, we unravel the benefits of having a well-thought, consistent vision that inspires those around to do their best to live and work according to that vision, which will also help them find their way back when they get out of track.
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger. And we extend to you a big welcome. We’re honored and thrilled that you can join us today. Let’s have some fun. And also, I’m going to really look for things that I can apply that have a significant impact in my life and the life of my organization, the teams and the people that I work with. I invite you to do exactly the same thing, whether that be your family, organization, professional, and of course, your own life. Now, today’s Becoming Your Best podcast has been inspired by several experiences this week that teach us – you and me – about the power of words on your vision and life. Now, I’ll share some lessons learned in the body of this podcast. But first, I’ll give you a quick overview of these three experiences that I have in mind. The first one is attending ATD, the Association of Talent Development, in Orlando, Florida, together with Rob Shallenberger, Jamie Thorup, and Tommy Shallenberger, and about 10,000 other people. These are HR specialists, training specialists. They have one objective, and that is “How do we bring out the best in ourselves and in each of our associates and become the best that we can be?” It’s interesting because the theme for this particular ATD conference was “Let the best in the world bring out the best in your employees.” Well, for a company like Becoming Your Best, this is the perfect time to have a booth and a presence there, where I had the blessing to speak on the first morning and provide a keynote address as what is called an author’s chat on Becoming Your Best. And then on Tuesday, Rob held a session on Do What Matters Most, and Wednesday on “Start with the Vision: Six Steps to Effectively Plan, Create Solutions, and Take Action.“ These are powerful content and exactly designed to fulfill that theme: “Let the best in the world bring out the best in your employees.” And it was so fun to have Jamie and Tommy there to support this effort. They have so many friends from all over the world. So, I would like to share my experience from the author’s chat. It was really fun. There were 100 seats there set up. And we had 250 show up, they were everywhere. So, we’ll talk about that.
The number two experience that I had was earlier this morning. And it was something called a Microbe Forum Meeting, part of the Young Presidents Organization, but it’s just a one-on-one. This particular person that was assigned to me today is an amazing friend from Kampala, Uganda, Vinay Dawda. And Vinay has a manufacturing firm in Uganda. His wife, Tina, has a distribution firm of major brands like Huggies, Dove soap, and many more brands that we would all be familiar with. And their two children, their adult children, have an online business-to-business wholesale distribution service. So, it was really fun catching up with Vinay. And my visit with Vinay was a total inspiration for me. We’ve had unique experiences over the last few years. Five years ago or six years ago, we met in South Africa where I had the privilege of being a resource for his YPO forum. And that was a day-long session, and oh did we have a great time. We talked about Becoming Your Best and ways to apply those principles individually and as CEOs. Second, I had the opportunity to see Vinay once again when I addressed the Africa, Great Lakes YPO chapter in Kigali. And then third of all, when we did an eight-week virtual session with the Kigali Africa Great Lakes chapter, which is in that greater part of Africa. So, it’s so fun to reconnect. And Vinay was wonderful, as he described the impact that the principles, the 12 principles, have had on him, his family, and his business. And we’ll get to that here shortly. And the last experience that I had was the pre-school graduation of a five-year-old granddaughter, Samantha, that was so fun this morning. There were 10 to 12 Youngsters there. It was fun to see her graduate from preschool, going into kindergarten. Well, anyhow, these youngsters acted out the story of the three pigs, Three Little Pigs.
So, today, I’d like to start with recounting the story of the Three Little Pigs, and how it relates to having an inspiring personal or organizational vision. So, let’s get right into it. Here’s how it goes. I hope you’ll have fun with me as we just revisit this childhood favorite:
“Mrs. Pig was very tired. ‘Oh, dear.’ She said to her three little pigs. ‘I can’t do this work anymore. I’m afraid you must leave home and make your own way in the world.’ So, the three little pigs set off. The first little pig met a man carrying a bundle of straw. ‘Excuse me,’ said the first little pig politely, ‘Would you please sell me some of your straw so that I can make a house?’ Well, the man readily agreed, and the first little pig went off to find a good place to build his house. The other little pigs carried all along the road, and soon they met a man carrying a bundle of sticks. ‘Excuse me,’ said the little pig politely, ‘Would you please sell me some sticks so I can build a house?’ And the man readily agreed, and the little pig said goodbye to his brother. And the third little pig didn’t think much of their ideas. ‘I’m going to build myself a much bigger, better, stronger house,’ he thought and he carried off down the road until he met a man with a cart-load of bricks. ‘Excuse me,’ said the third little pig as politely as his mother had taught him, ‘Please can you sell me some bricks so I can build a house?’ ‘Of course,’ said the man, ‘Where would you like me to unload them?’ And the third little pig looked around and saw a nice patch of ground under a tree. ‘Over there,’ he pointed. And they all set to work. And by nighttime, the house of straw and the house of sticks were built. But the house of bricks was only just beginning to rise above the ground. The first and second little pigs laughed. They thought their brother was really silly having to work so hard when they had already finished. However, a few days later, the brick house was completed and looked very smart with shiny windows, a neat little chimney, and a shiny knocker on the door. One starlit night, soon after they had settled in, a wolf came out looking for food. And by the light of the moon, he aspired the first little pig’s house of straw, and he sidled up next to the door and he called, ‘Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in.’ ‘No, no! Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin,’ replied the little pig. ‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in,’ said the wolf, who is a very big and bad wolf and a greedy sort of wolf. And he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house in, but the little pig ran away as fastest as he could. And as he moved along, he went to the second little pig’s house to hide. The next night the wolf was even hungrier, and he saw the house of sticks. He crept up to the door and called, ‘Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in.’ ‘No! Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin,’ said the second little pig as the first little pig hid trembling under the stairs. ‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in,’ said the wool. And he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house in. But the little pigs ran away as fast as their trotters could carry them and went to the third little pig’s house to hide. ‘So, what did I tell you?’ Said the third little pig, ‘It’s important to build houses properly.’ But he welcomed them in and they all settled down for the rest of the night. The following night, the wolf was even hungrier and feeling bigger and badder than ever. Prowling around he came to the third little pig’s house. He crept up to the door and called, ‘Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in.’ ‘Oh, no! Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin,’ said the third little pig, while the first and the second little pigs hid trembling under the stairs. ‘Then all huff and I’ll puff and all blow your house in,’ said the wolf. And he huffed and he puffed and he blew but nothing happened, so he huffed and he puffed and he blew again, even harder, but still, nothing happened, the brick house stood firm. The wolf was very angry, and getting even bigger and even better by the minute. ‘I’m going to eat you all,’ he growled, ‘You just wait and see.’ He prowled around the house trying to find a way in. And the little pigs trembled when they saw his big eyes peering in. Then they heard a scrambling sound, ‘Quick! Quick!’ Said the third little pig, ‘He’s climbing the tree, I think he’s going to come down the chimney.’ The three little pigs got the biggest pan they had, and filled it full of water, and put it on the fire to boil. All the time, they could hear the sound of the wolf climbing the tree, and then walking along the roof. The little pigs held their breath, the wolf was coming down the chimney. Near and near he came until, with a tremendous splash, he landed in the pan of water. [12:14 inaudible], he screamed, and he’s shot back up the chimney, thinking his tail was on fire. The last the three little pigs saw the big bad wolf was him flying over the treetops, clutching a very sore tail. So, the three little pigs lived happily ever after in their very smart houses of bricks.”
Well, now to relate this to your personal or organizational vision. And you’re saying, “Okay, Steve, I can’t wait to see how you do this.” Well, here you go. You want a vision that is not made of straw or sticks. You want a vision that is made of bricks; one that will last the test of time. Now, I might add that in the book, “Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders,” that you will find in the chapter on “Lead with a Vision” that is full chuck of tips and ideas and examples on how to develop a meaningful, winning, inspiring vision. I’ll share a couple of those things today. So, first of all, you want an inspiring personal vision. So, whether you are 20, 40, 60, or 80, you want a personal vision for the ages, one that will endure the storms, the huffs and the puffs. It will inspire you, influence all around you, and leave a legacy for your posterity and those who know you. Now, professionally, you definitely want a vision that leads and provides direction for your team and organization, and even for your customers. Be it a smaller firm or even being an entire country, the vision will be transformational. I love this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “A pile of rocks ceases to be a pile of rocks the very moment a single man or a woman contemplates it, bearing within him or her the image of a cathedral.” I love former President Ronald Reagan of the United States’ this quote: “To grasp and hold a vision, that is the very essence of successful leadership.” And Winston Churchill said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mine.”
Now, of course, having an inspirational personal vision is both a mindset of what we’re capable of doing. It’s far different than goals. A vision sets the direction; the goals are what will we do this year that will help us have one of the best years we could ever have. And remember, as we set goals, they’re cumulative, you may or may not achieve them, but they flow into the next year. And as you set your goals for the next year, you’re further up the ladder, further along up the summit to see further. There is no goal wasted ever, because it helps you to become good. So, let’s think about this because setting your vision also requires a skill set. So, for example, on an organizational vision, you want it to be sure, that’s part of the skill set. Now, that is a real challenge, because you want the entire organization to know it without looking, you want them to know it by heart. And it should be inspiring, meaningful, and full of passion, and purpose, and point the way forward. Now, on the personal side of having a personal vision, we don’t worry about the length really, because it’s your personal document. Now, this is not hard to set up. You may have some of the resources provided by Becoming Your Best or you can take a simple blank sheet of paper and write your name at the top – “Mary’s personal vision” or “Charlie’s personal vision” – and down the left-hand side, write the description of five to seven of the most important roles in your life. Roles, such as when we all share, so we put it, number one, personal. Those would be things such as physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. But next, another, we all frequently share is family, being a parent, a son or a daughter, or family members of brother or sister. It’s a good catch-all. Another role many of us share would be spouse, partner, or significant other. So, that’s another you would write down as one of those roles. You may have a couple in your professional responsibilities. And so it may be division leader or CEO, it may be warehouse manager, it could be sales rep, or it could be technician, it could be office manager, it could be a coach, whatever that significant one is. Another could be service, community, church.
So, right now, you’re going to be in one of two situations: you either have an existing vision that’s written and you regularly review and it meets these criteria, or you don’t have one today, you’ve thought about it, you’ve talked about it. So, if that’s the case, get the sheet of paper out, put your name at the top, and write the roles down. Now, if you’re in a place where you can do it right now, do it. But if you’re out and about, driving a car or exercising, then save this for when you get to a place when you can write. But I would invite you to do this, and I have an invitation before we are done. So, it’s that easy to get started on your personal vision. And then once you have this setup. And the advantage of doing this by roles is it allows you to be very specific and think about that role, and then create your vision. In other words, “Here’s how I see myself living.” And use the present tense: “I am” rather than “I hope to” or “I want to be,” because you may not be that way today, but one day because you have these thoughts, you will be. What you think about is what you bring about. And as a man or woman thinketh, so are they.
So, let’s just give a few examples. Let’s consider the example provided by Vinay this morning regarding an organizational vision. He shared the story of his two children who founded the B2B online wholesale business which is being very successful. And as I mentioned, so graciously shared with a large impact, the principles of Becoming Your Best had on him and his family, as they all participated in this training, and one of the things they gleaned was the importance of an inspiring organizational vision. The name of their firm is, Kikuuboonline. And it’s spelled K-I-K-U-U-B-O-O-N-L-I-N-E. Now, why I took the time to spell that out? Their vision is putting a smile on their customers’ face. Now, don’t you love that vision? It affects every single thing they do, every interaction. That is a flat-out inspiring vision. Now, their graphics would be two eyes with a big smile underneath it. That’s what everybody sees. So, it’s in their company logo. If you take a look at their name, which I just spelled out, you notice it has two O’s. So, K-I-K-U-U-B-O-O-N-L-I-N-E, well, under the O’s, they have a smile. So, I love this. This is an excellent example of having a short, powerful, inspirational vision for an organization; drives them on what they do. Here’s another one for Synergy Companies. It’s an energy service company in California, where they have energy services direct to the customers. They interface and work with major utilities. These are world-class organizations or municipal utilities – outstanding organizations. Here is their vision: “We treat people right.” Just four words. And they have had this vision as a company for close to 30 years – “We treat people.” And it’s how they treat their customers, that’s how they treat their employees and anyone that they associate with. One of the reasons that the utilities and the municipal energy companies like to work with them is if there’s ever a customer complaint, guess what they do? They treat people right. They don’t even worry about it. They’re just there to take care of the problem. So, that’s awesome.
And also the language – using present tense. Vinay reminded me about an experience he just had on this very day, because they’re nine hours ahead of us in Kampala. As I mentioned, his wife has a distribution company, and they have wonderful brands that they distribute. And Vinay shared part of the vision, which is “We are the best distributor in Uganda.” And he pointed out, he said, “Notice we didn’t say ‘we hope to be’ or ‘we want to be,’ we are.” That’s the vision. And so, Vinay, because he is so talented and has been helping his wife, secured additional companies to represent them as a distribution firm. And he shared that that very day, he was talking with an organization and he shared part of their vision: “We are the best distributor in Uganda.” And he pointed out, he said, “We don’t have to be or don’t want to be, this is what we do.” And that company heard about that, they knew about their reputation, they knew about Vinay and his reputation, and they said, “You’re on.” And that was good enough for them. You can see how powerful this is. I mean, think of the enormous impact of this following vision description shared in 1962 by John F. Kennedy had not only on a nation, but on an entire world, and continues to do so today, more than a half a century later, “We will send a man to the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade.” Whoa! And this just galvanized all the resources and inspiration and efforts of an entire nation and changed the world.
Well, how about your personal vision? I’m just going to share my experience in the author’s chat from ATD. As we met with the 250 people, we had a lot of fun, but they set up on their sheet the very type of thing that we just talked about; their name at the top of the paper, their rolls down the left-hand side. And I invited them, and this is what I invite you to do today, to write down, under personal, the following. And this will get you started. You can edit it, modify it, and put your own words later, but it’ll get you going. Under physical, “I am fit, healthy, and I have high energy.” That’s it. I mean, you may not be that way today, but the very fact that it becomes part of your vision, really determines what you’ll look like and feel like in 3, 5, 10 years from now. How about under “spouse, significant other, or partner”? I’d encourage you to write down the following as this may apply in your life; if not, you adapt it: “I treat,” and then you insert your partner’s name right here, “Mary,” or “Michael,” or whatever it might be, “like a 10.” That’s it, that’s your vision. “I treat Mary –” or whatever the name is – “like a 10.” Now, if that is your vision and it’s deeply felt, imagine how that impacts your behavior. And again, you can add to it, you can modify it later, but these will get you going. Here’s the third one to consider putting under one of your professional roles: “I am among the very best at what I do. I lift, inspire, and build others. I bring out the best in all that I associate with.” So, there you have it: “I am among the best at what I do. I lift, build, and inspire others. And I bring out the best in all those I associate with.” Now, if that’s what’s in your mind, think how that drives so many qualities of leadership.
Well, that helps you get going, and now for my invitation to you. I invite each one of you, our wonderful listeners, if you have a personal vision – whether it’s your own personal one, family, or organizational – to review it, evaluate it, and edit it, and take a look at the words. What are ways that we can build a stronger, personal family or organizational vision? And if you don’t have one, then my invitation to you is to just follow what I’ve talked about and create your own personal vision. And if it’s a personal one, do it by this weekend. That’s my invitation to you. Now, I invite you right now to raise your right hand and say, “I’m in! Go for it!” It’s between you and I. And if it’s organizational, then start now and invite others to join in and make it a collaborative effort. So, may you build a wonderful, personal family and organizational vision of bricks; one that will last over the period of time; one that will inspire and provide you with direction during the storms of life and bring you greater health, happiness, and prosperity. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host, wishing you all the best today and always.
Founder, Becoming Your Best
CEO, executive, corporate trainer, and community leader.