“I was taught to think about mission and people. Mission. What are you trying to accomplish? Don’t do anything until you know what the mission is.”
General (Retired) Colin Powell
It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? “Don’t do anything until you know what the mission is….”. And yet, very few leaders I have known in the course of my career have translated General Powell’s unmistakably clear guidance into their personal lives. As soldiers, we were always focused on the unit mission, the team mission. As a corporate team member, we focused on the company mission, our department mission. It seemed counterintuitive to apply this same sense of purpose to ourselves.
Clearly, though, we need to have a personal mission. As one of my colleagues, Brigadier General (retired) Becky Halstead, wrote as her insightful book title, 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead is You (Amazon Books 2013), each of us must truly learn how to lead ourselves first.
How do we do this? Start with developing your Personal Mission Statement. Here are the three components of the Personal Mission Statement:
Who am I? (example: “I am a person who seeks to serve others…..”)
What do I do? (example: “by leading and influencing them in a positive way…..”)
Why do I do it? (example: “which provides me with a sense of purpose, and helps guide others to achieve their full potential.”)
Your Personal Mission Statement should be at the top of your Personal Leadership Philosophy – the embodiment of who you are and what you represent. This one-page document provides others with clarity as to who they are dealing with, and what they can expect. It’s simply not true that “everyone knows.” They don’t.
Should your Mission Statement and Philosophy apply to every aspect of your life? My answer is a resounding “Yes!” As Becky wrote, leadership is a 24/7 business – there is no room for Jekyll and Hyde leaders in a values-based culture. You have to be the same person all the time to be authentic….
Since tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life, make a commitment to start writing your Personal Mission Statement. Share it with those you trust the most. Get their feedback – is it you? If so, then begin to develop your Personal Leadership Philosophy from the Mission.
Mission. What are you trying to accomplish? This is where your legacy resides. Get this done. You’ll be glad you did – and so will those you serve.
Enjoy the journey!
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