When I was growing up on the rural plains of Colorado, I remember asking my parents to let me sign up for any and every sporting activity available. These activities ranged from baton lessons to little league baseball and beyond. My parents typically answered my plea with one simple question, “What do you want to do well?”
Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to twirl batons or play with my little buddies in summer league baseball; however, my parents were providing me with a valuable life long lessons which was to identify my mission and focus on being great at one thing as opposed to mediocre at many.
What do you want to do well?
That is the question my parents posed to me at a very young age. I’ve asked myself that very question when I’m seeking clarity about my mission in life and the workplace. Start with what you are passionate about. What is it that you care about so deeply that you are willing to sacrifice your time and energy for the good of the mission? After you’ve identified what you want to do well, begin to think about how that mission benefits others. This step is critical because it is how you turn the mission into a form of servant leadership.
Who do you serve?
Congratulations, you’ve already identified what your passion is and now you need to consider how your passion best serves people. In short, who will benefit from your efforts? Self serving people are usually pretty lonely even if they make it to the top. Selecting a mission that helps others improve their quality of life is a means of creating a mission that is worth pursuing. How will people benefit from your work? Sometimes our mission may at first seem to be focused on self-improvement or increasing our own financial benefits. You may be surprised to find that in almost any mission, if you look deeper, you will likely be able to help someone else along the way. Take time to determine who you will serve. Imagine how your mission can be a catalyst for success for both you and those you serve.
How do you identify your priorities?
You’ve already identified your mission, and who you will serve. Now, how will you stay true to course? When you think of a long road trip, you start by identifying your final destination, or your vision. Then, you likely determine way-points. You can do the same when you consider your mission. You know where you are going. Now you get the opportunity to determine how you will get there. Be cautious about veering off course, as you can spend extra energy and miles that, while they may be interesting, won’t help you get to mission accomplished.
Why do you pursue this mission?
Your innate sense of purpose helped you complete the previous steps. Now you need to make sure the team you are leading – as well as other stakeholders – have clarity about the mission. Countless time, effort and reflection go into developing a mission statement. This is why the statement, though brief, can clearly communicate the essence of your mission. A well written mission statement keeps people on course and reminds us to focus on what we want to do well.