Newsletter 575 – Turning Mission and Purpose into Reality

Have you ever seen a company or church mission statement, beautifully framed, hanging on a wall, and ignored by all who walk by? My first coach urgedMission-Statement 3 me to write a mission statement for my life and my career. That was not easy but I got it done and then forgot about it. In an article titled “From Purpose to Impact,” two authors in Harvard Business Review (May, 2014) describe how we can turn our mission statements and purpose-driven goals into reality. “Purpose is increasingly seen as the key to navigating the complex world we face today,” the authors wrote. But “few leaders have a strong sense of their own leadership purpose or a clear plan for translating this into action. As a result, they often fail to achieve their most ambitious professional or personal goals.”

This HBR article is a good description of how coaching can apply in business settings and lead to real change. As you read what follows think how this might apply to churches and their leaders, or to individual career or life directions:

  • Take time to ponder and clarify your purpose. “Your purpose is who you are and what makes you distinctive.” Write down your purpose. It keeps you focused and lets you avoid distractions.
  • Consider why you believe this is your passion, purpose or mission.
  • Set some three to five year goals. Decide how you will reach them. Without this step you keep hovering around your purpose statement and doing nothing.
  • Work backwards. Determine what you want to accomplish after three years, two years, one year. What will be objective evidence that you have succeeded in reaching each of these stages?
  • What are the critical next steps in moving forward in the immediate future – like what you do this week?
  • What are the key relationships you need to work this plan?
  • When you are frustrated or stalled, pull out this plan to remind yourself about where you’re going.
  • Hold this plan lightly. Circumstances beyond our control can intervene. Remember that ultimately the future is in God’s hands

Is this too simple or too obvious? Is it doable for you or your organization? If not, why not? Please comment.

  1. Very doable. We tend to complicate things that simply take time, effort and PATIENCE to work through. We also have to be mindful to keep our vision in sight (myself included). We do the work and tuck it away. This is a great reminder to literally “Write the vision and make it plain”. Posting my purpose and vision in a place where I see it daily and keeping this post in my coaches tool kit..Great post!

    • Thanks Cheryl. One suggestion: move the posted vision statement periodically. Otherwise, before long it blends with the environment and we never notice it again.

  2. I believe that an important part of any ‘mission’ or ‘purpose’ statement should include an awareness of core values of an individual. Some of the great conflicts in my own life, as well as the lives of those I coach, seems to grow out of the conflict between what a person ‘does’ and what they really believe. Foundational to establishing mission and purpose in a life is the understanding of what I really believe. Core values often determine action. Good thoughts, Gary.

    • Hey Ken

      Of course you are right. Sometimes, especially when I work with Christians, I skim over the values issue with the clearly wrong assumption that most Christians have thought through their values. The HBR article did not focus on this but, like you, I agree that this is a critically important issue that needs to be addressed. Thanks for reminding me of this.

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