Connect To Your “Why”
During a recent conversation with a leader in a large organization, I asked, “Why do you what you do?” Perhaps because she was programmed, like many of us are, to respond to the question, “What do you do?”, I received a description of the very technical aspects of her job. I asked my question again – emphasizing the “why” part – and she thought for a minute and said, “I have no idea anymore.”
How many of us would have that same answer? It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and lose sight of our priorities and our values. This can cause us to feel burned out, unable to motivate ourselves or those we lead, and disconnected from our purpose. An easy and useful way to remedy this is to dust off, or create, a personal leadership mission statement. A mission statement doesn’t just describe what you do, but more importantly why and how you do what you do, and who you do it for.
Don’t know where to start? Here are a few simple steps:
- Begin with your values. Try and identify your top 3 values; the principles that guide you through life. (If you’re stuck, google it or contact us – we have a values survey we’re happy to provide.)
- Ask yourself these three questions (the first two should reflect your values in some way):
- Why do I do what I do?
- How do I do what I do?
- Who do I do it for?
- Put those ideas together in a sentence or two.
- Read your mission statement and ask yourself, “Does this challenge, inspire, and motivate me?” “Does it provide me with purpose and direction?”
If you answer yes to both of those questions, you’re off to a great start! But it doesn’t stop there. Think about how you can incorporate your mission statement in your day to day life and hold yourself accountable for engaging with the world in the way you aspire to. Is it something you say to yourself on the way to work as a reminder of how you want to approach your people and your projects? Would you print it out and stick it up on your computer monitor as a visual cue? Will you use your personal mission statement when you talk to those you lead to help them understand why you do what you do?
Don’t ever find yourself unable to answer the question, “Why do you do what you do?”. Leaders who have an answer are leading with purpose and in a way that is aligned with their values. When that is happening, you will be able to lead change and change leadership.