In our book Mission Possible, my coauthor Terry Waghorn and I state that the most important earthly relationship you can cultivate as a leader is your relationship with yourself. That might sound self-serving, but think about it—how well do you really know yourself?
Every leader should have a purpose—a reason for being—something to strive for. A purpose is different from a goal because it is ongoing. It has no beginning or end.
As a leader, your purpose comprises two elements: a personal mission statement and a set of values that define your strengths and help you make values-based decisions on a daily basis. Having a clear purpose gives meaning and definition to a leader’s life.
Some people have asked me if making money is a good purpose. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money—and it may be a goal to work toward—but it’s not a purpose. Purpose isn’t about achievement. It is much bigger. Your purpose is your calling. It’s about what business you are in as a person.
I ask leaders to spend time developing their personal mission statement by answering these four questions:
- Why am I in the world?
- What is my overarching purpose?
- What would I like people to say about me after I’m gone?
- What difference will it have made that I was here?
The next step is to identify your personal values by answering these questions:
- What is really important to me?
- What do I stand for?
- What three values do I want to live by?
- Which of those values is most important?
Going through this process takes some soul searching and quiet, thoughtful time. This isn’t an exercise to rush through.
Once you clearly understand your motivation and intention as a leader, you are able to monitor yourself on a daily basis. You’ll begin to notice certain actions that are more in line with your purpose than others. And you’ll begin eliminating behaviors that don’t support your purpose—and staying on a path of continuous personal improvement.
When you really know who you are as a leader, you can operate more efficiently and calmly while making meaningful decisions. But the best part is that you’ll also be able to bring out the magnificence in others. And isn’t that the most important role of a leader?