I asked Chris if he had ever crafted a personal mission statement. His answer was no, but he was excited about the prospect of developing one. The timing seemed appropriate as we began our coaching engagement focusing on how he could accelerate and elevate his effectiveness in his current role to become a group President.
His first draft was predictably…boring. It was a “one size fits all” replay of what a high potential leader should say. He included what he wanted to do, with hints of how, but very little flavoring of why. I asked, “if I gave this to someone who knew you well and considered you to be an effective leader, would they recognize it as you?” We took crafting a mission statement on as one of his goals.
Over the years and over the hundreds of leaders with whom I have worked, my guess is that not more than 20% have taken time to write out their personal or professional mission statement. Does it matter?
Why do you make the choices you make? What difference do you make? What consistently brings you a level of focus, excitement, satisfaction, and impact? What is your brand that others will recognize up close and from a distance? What is the fingerprint you leave that others will recognize?
I asked Chris to think about examples of when he was so focused on what he was doing that others may have had to tap him on his shoulder to get his attention; so engaged in and excited by his efforts that he lost track of time; so pleased about what he was doing that someone else may have thought he was smiling for no apparent reason; so proud of how what he was doing made a difference in how he and others felt, thought, behaved that he needed no outside reinforcement or reward. I thought he looked at me as though I really was showing my psychology roots! What I realized was that I was in pursuit of my own passion at that moment, trying to make a difference in his development.
Chris admitted that his first draft sounded bland. He began sharing how he really enjoyed wood carving. One’s true passion and purpose is more likely rooted deeply in experiences that are outside the context in which we first ask the question. Why wood carving I asked? With a smile, Chris said, “I don’t know. There is something about taking a piece of wood and seeing what it can become. Not just watching it take shape but knowing that a chip here, a file there and suddenly you see the piece of wood becoming… more…..”
Chris is still working on the wording for his official mission statement. More importantly he is getting more in touch with why he really wants to make a difference, why he gets excited developing direct reports and his team, why he wants to be proud of the organization he builds, why he will smile regardless of what others think.
I have several passions. More than likely so do you. A few of them directly drive our purpose. All of which influence our personal preferences and professional practices. Our passions make us feel good. Our purpose makes us do good. My passions include drawing and painting. Connection to my purpose? I want to see, hear, and capture you enough to draw out the best in you.
What is your passion and purpose? Have you written it down yet? Your “why” really does matter.