Lisagor: Are you missing your mission?

Managers need to reinvigorate themselves before they can inspire others

I recently rediscovered my sense of mission. It had disappeared without me noticing about a month ago. One day I was excited about my life — consulting, photography and writing — and then poof! Lights out! I suppose I could blame it on the holiday season. But that seems too convenient.

My son-in-law gave me a book called “The Radical Leap,” by Steve Farber, that reminded me of the importance of asking why I do the things I do.

The gift was timely because I am helping a small technology company uncover its real objective so it can overcome its current organizational malaise.

I suspect many of you can relate to going through the motions at work without a feeling of enthusiasm for the task at hand.

That attitude can result from a lack of direction, ineffective senior managers, interpersonal conflicts and a host of other factors. However, ultimately we have to be responsible for keeping track of our purpose. Managers must first reinvigorate themselves before they can inspire others.

So I put together a new mission statement, a call to action for myself. I started by answering several questions: What do I do? Whom do I do it for? Why do I do it? What impossible things could I make possible if I wasn’t afraid of failing?

And just to make sure I did not lose sight of the big picture, I added, What is my purpose in life?

I recognize that some people might find this approach a bit esoteric. They might ask what difference does committing to a mission make if what you do is maintain networks, manage information technology contracts or review Exhibit 300s?

But I have found that, to a large degree, my ability to maintain a lasting inner sense of purpose depends on my willingness to relate to an objective greater than my own immediate needs.

Such goals might be as simple as deciding to treat everyone with respect or as broad as ensuring that everyone in an organization communicates vital information quickly so they can fulfill their agency’s mission or company’s objective.

Enlightened managers not only recognize when they’ve lost their passion, they do whatever it takes to rediscover it and share their resolution with others. They recognize that the alternative is not acceptable.

The path to a revitalized attitude can be a difficult journey. But, it’s definitely a trip worth taking. Lisagor founded Celerity Works in 1999 to help executives accelerate and manage business growth. He serves as program chairman for FCW Events’ Program Management Summit and is the author of “Business Development Guide for Selling to the Government,” which is available at He lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and can be reached at [email protected].


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