From the comfort of a club chair, through the wonder of Instagram, I followed a friend’s journey as he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail—an amazing achievement of 2,653.6 miles, northbound from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada, completed in 135 days. His mission was clear and simple: “Walk the entire length of the United States so that if ever needed, I would be reminded that I can succeed at anything I set out to achieve.”
How does one rise every morning, day after day for months, pack up everything you need for life, throw it on your back, and put one foot in front of the other through all kinds of conditions until you reach the next stop? The answer is the same for any great task, whether running a marathon, sailing across the Atlantic, starting a business, or advancing the work of the organization you serve: You must have a mission, a why, a purpose.
I’m honored to be asked to coach and mentor professionals, leaders who are looking to up their game, who want to break through to a new level of performance, who are taking on new teams and need to grow. In our first meeting together, we begin with who—as I believe WHO you are is more important than WHAT you do.
As we begin to embrace the WHO, it soon leads us to talk about WHY. All right, I know we are who we are—we can’t change the stripes on the tiger. But we can start to look at our purpose. Why are you placed on the planet at this time? What is your purpose? As we move through the coaching process, I ask these questions and then task my coachees with creating a personal mission statement, or purpose statement, as some prefer to call it.
Your mission statement identifies for your purpose, the WHY of who you are—not for a long hike or a run or a start-up or a job, but for your life. It’s broader than the place you are working; it encompasses all the little boxed up roles we live in, like a job, a place in family, a partner in community or school, or any other aspect of life. It spans time from the moment you first discover your mission to the end of your life. It’s succinct, easy to repeat to anyone who needs to know, applicable to any place you go and any role you fulfill. It motivates you to get out of bed every morning and inspires you to make the world a better place before you end each day.
More than three decades ago, I articulated my mission for the first time. “Identify needs and resources and put them together so people are helped and communities are improved.” While my mission has not changed, it has been fulfilled in a myriad of places, in many ways. Countless people have been helped. Many communities have been improved. And most importantly, I’ve known with certainty every time I have paused to check: I’m living with purpose, the why of who I am, my reason for taking up space on the planet. I encourage you to work on your own personal mission statement if you haven’t already. And if you want some help getting started, give me a call.
Explore the ways Advancement Resources can partner with you—and your organization—to achieve success through articulating your why.