If all of you who were reading this right now decided to start your own blog, what would you call it? Just off the top of your head, what would its name be, and what would you want it to be about? Chris Walden and I started our blog over two years ago, and our mission is to infuse character into the business culture. You won’t find any Disney characters here; what we are talking about is honesty, unity, integrity, and transparency, among others. This mission has to be bigger than each of us individually, and it has to be bigger than the circumstances in which it lives. This means that whether there are 40,000 followers or only 40, we will continue, because we are not doing this for ourselves, or for numbers. We are doing this to literally infuse character into the business culture; something we both believe down to our core is vitally important. Sometimes though we get bogged down with the challenges of coming up with weekly posts, so it is uplifting to actually see our work have impact!
A business executive came up to me and mentioned Chris’ recent post about being lost and quietly blaming others, but not really feeling empowered to tell the leader he made a wrong turn. He said it was extremely insightful and put in to words what he was thinking and feeling about that subject. It was really encouraging! Along the journey, sometimes you get bits and pieces of success, of seeing what you are trying to do come to fruition. There are times though, and this is most times, where you don’t get to see the effects of the very important work you are doing. This is what I believe separates success from failure in most business ventures. If what you are doing is all about you and your success, it will ultimately fail. Don’t get me wrong, being all about you at times is important; you need rest, relaxation, and time away. I get that. I’m referring here to the mission of your life, your life’s work, your legacy.
We will fail ourselves and others so many times in life that if our work is only about us and our success, we will quit; we will die of hopelessness. If what we do is about something bigger than us, then when we fail, we will look at our mission, dust ourselves off, and get back on the road and learn from our mistakes. Enough with the motivational speeches! The problem with motivational speeches is they are all about you. “You can do it!” Of course you can, but that is a foundational belief; it isn’t the point. Motivational speeches have no depth; they don’t get past the parking lot because by the time you get home, some obstacle — either mental or physical — will have gotten in the way, and hopelessness will set in.
Being a part of something bigger will carry you through the times where you don’t see the fruit of your labor. Might you fail anyway? Yes, it could happen. You could have a great mission and vision for a business, but if you don’t have good accounting practices, you might find yourself in jail. The practical must always be balanced with the mission and vision.
Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, wrote another book called The Eighth Habit. It is about finding your voice, or mission, and helping others find theirs. As a leader, you have a great opportunity to help other people find their mission. Covey brought up the idea of co-missioning, which means the mission of your company merges with the mission of your life.
Think about it — how sweet would that be? Think about that for yourselves, and then think about that for the team you are leading at work. Do you know the mission of the lives of people on your team? Step one, ask them — HR won’t mind. This step implies more steps. There are many prescriptive models to follow to begin this journey. The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment could be a good beginning, but it is up to you to determine how best to do this. All I wanted to do was plant a seed. Now go water it however you see fit. Keep in mind the mission of a leader is not to manage a team, but to grow them.