How to Fend Off Mission Drift

Do you  know how to fend off mission drift?

Let’s face it—no matter how clear, committed, and excited we are to creating success in life and business, things change. In spite of our intended outcomes we’re faced with ordeals and obstacles we never anticipated.

Circumstances, challenges, and changes we didn’t expect are often our greatest enemies to lasting success and achievement.  We get diverted from our once-carefully plotted course toward our business and life goals.

Often when distractions appear disciple disappears and we begin to drift, almost unperceptively at first.  Then, what began as an exception in action soon becomes “the rule” of habit.

We all know THE problem—I’ve experienced it and so have you.  Someday, somehow, someway, we ended up somewhere else than where we intended to be—financially, organizationally, and personally.

There is a solution.  A fix, if you will, that will allow you to get back on course, stay the course, and form the foundation to reach the goals and objectives you’ve set for you business and for your life.

First, we must recognize that change is neither good or bad—change just is.  It’s immutable and omnipresent.  We can ignore it, deny it, or even try to hide from it but we can’t escape the currents of change.  We not only have to deal with change, we have to learn how to deal with it effectively and consistently.

So how do we do “stay the course to our true North” and keep from going adrift from our mission?  We have to relentlessly fend for our time and ruthlessly defend our attention from constant diversions and distractions.

Here are ten simple steps to keep you, your actions, and your organization in step with what’s most important, valuable, and profitable for you and your business. It begins by remembering, recapturing, and recrystallizing your mission.

First, ask yourself “Why am I in business TODAY?” You started your business or career for a very specific reason. Maybe today that purpose has faded, changed, or remained the same but yet you’re not “living it like you mean it”.

Fending off Mission Drift comes from strength of purpose, clarity of vision, consistency in action, and through discipline in doing what’s most important above all other things.

1)  Reconnect with Your Mission.

Start by revisiting the core purpose of your business and the reasons “why” you started it and why it exists today.  Why is it important to you for the business to subsist, survive, and succeed? What is it you and your business stand for? What are you trying to accomplish through your business and why is that important to you?

2)  Align or Realign Your Mission with a Higher Purpose

Who and what are you trying to serve and why are they and it important to you?  How will they benefit by and through your success and why is it important to them? What would they lose if your mission isn’t fulfilled? Why are they important to you and how does their benefiting serve you? What will you gain through the success of your business and what would you lose if your mission is not pursued or continued?

3)  Interpret Your Mission into Vision

As your mission is embodied, how do you see it unfolding? What is your “vision” for you and your business as you are carrying out your mission? What will your business “look” like next year? Three years? Five years? As your mission unfolds as your vision comes to life, what will it do for you, your business, your partners, employees, clients, community, and other people and causes important to you and when?

4)  Communicate Your Mission

Begin by rewriting and rearticulating your mission on paper.  Gather the ideas, input, and suggestions from others essential to carrying out the mission of your business.  It’s important to have the support of those most vital to the cause but not at the expense of your own passion, values, and vision. Make the articulation of your mission as clear, concise, and tangible as possible.  Your mission must reflect the values and principles most important to you.

Ensure that “everyone” knows the reason or reasons you’re in business and how it relates to, or serves them.  Encourage feedback on how you are living up to your mission and the values you express and espouse.

5)  Translate Your Mission into Strategy

What are the best models, methods, and strategies to carry on your mission from today forward?  What strategies will you best leverage? What obstacles must you overcome or avoid? How will these strategies be initially implemented and best supported on an ongoing basis?

6)  Turn Your Mission into Tangible Action

What actions, activities, decisions, and commitments must you make and keep ensuring your mission is on-going? What organizational norms must you cultivate and reward? What policies, practices, and structures must you create and maintain to support your mission and its growth? How can these systems guide or direct your daily activities and decisions to ensure your greatest opportunity for success?

7)  Be the Champion to the Cause

Don’t just think it.  Don’t just say it.  Don’t just have your mission written on a plaque on the wall—live it, breathe it, “be” it.  An effective mission statement should be compelling and propelling. Be a walking example and embodiment of your mission and the values it supports.  Reward others for doing those things most consistent with your mission and demonstrating actions most consistent with the values most important and impactful to your business.

8)  Measure Your Mission

Understand this, where there is no profit there is no sustainable mission in business.  A mission can’t exist or be carried out unless it is supported by profit and profit-creating activities. Be strategic and be pragmatic in your decision-making and action-taking.  Whenever and wherever possible monitor activities and measure results to sustain your mission.

9)  Ask and Evaluate

Make a pronounced commitment to your mission and the strategies most supporting of your values.  In all major decisions or business matters ask these questions, “If we are successful, does this action support or enhance the mission, vision, and values of the company?”  “Is there a more effective strategy, different decision, or alternative direction that will give us the results we want or need in our business and better support of our mission?” Decide what you are committed to doing and what you’re dedicated to NOT doing.

10) Redesign, Redeploy, and Redirect

Be steadfast in your mission and flexible in your approach.  A “mission” is not a destination it is a way of being and a way of doing.  If your activities, decisions, systems, or people are not aligned with your mission it’s time to make changes—not to the mission but to the process of execution. Redesign your strategies, redeploy your resources, and redirect your energies and efforts as necessary.

Remember this—it’s strength of purpose, commitment, and consistency toward your mission is what avoids mission drift. It is the practice and discipline to revisit, remember, and revive that strength of commitment on a regular basis that keeps you on track.  With a strong enough “why” the “what-to-do” and “what-not-to-do” becomes easy and the “how” to do it becomes clear.

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