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Do You Have a Mission?

Posted 10 years ago

You need a clearly defined mission to be successful!
To get anything significant accomplished, you must work hard, possess energy, and demonstrate drive. But to truly influence others, you also need a mission. It isn’t enough just to come up with a “mission statement” that merely sounds good or looks sharp on paper, though that’s a start. Instead, to be effective, your mission has got to come from your heart. It’s got to grow out of a sense of what’s important in your life and in your world. The most effective missions involve helping others. Often, it’s acquiring that mission that catapults people into a leadership role, which puts them in a position to exercise personal power. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn’t start up Apple Computer just to make money or to make people more efficient; their mission was to develop a “user-friendly” machine that would revolutionize people’s lives. Their sense of purpose propelled them to perform brilliantly. And, characteristically,when they later sought to attract John Sculley, widely respected as a marvelous marketer, they didn’t emphasize money or prestige, both of which he already had in abundance as Pepsi’s president and CEO. Instead, according to Sculley’s autobiography, Jobs and Sculley were walking near Sculley’s home when Jobs asked, “So, what do you want to do, John? Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life – or do you want a chance to change the world?” Sculley, faced with that kind of challenge and that kind of vision, knew what he had to do. He acquired a new mission and joined Apple. Candy Lightner’s defining moment came in 1980 when her daughter Cari was killed by a drunk driver. Her anger soon turned into her mission: a burning desire to do something about such wasteful tragedies. Within a few days, she held a meeting with a few friends – and that was the beginning of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, better known as MADD. Candy Lightner had no position of power when she began. Yet she is living proof of Andrew Jackson’s famous epigram: “One man with courage makes a majority.” Or, in this case, one woman. “If you care enough,” Lightner says, “you can accomplish anything.” As usual, your attitude can affect how you choose to frame your mission. Perhaps you look around and say, “Here I am, stuck in a dead-end job. How can I possibly develop a mission?” But where we are, or what happens to us, is not as important as what we think about where we are or what happens to us. My point is, maybe we can’t all have missions echoing the grand but simple nobility espoused by Salvation Army founder William Booth: “Others.” But we can all look outside ourselves as we try to figure out our life’s purpose. And looking outside ourselves will not only help us fashion a mission, it will also help draw people to us and our mission.