Leaders (Like Hobbits) Stay on Mission

The mission is clear.
The path is dangerous.
The obstacles are mounting.
The chances of success seem small.
The stakes are higher than anyone knows.
Frodo and Sam are going to Mordor to destroy the ring or die trying.

Leaders stay on mission.
There are three reasons some leaders fail to stay on mission.

The mission isn’t clear.

The region of Okinawa, Japan is known as a “blue zone.” The people who live there tend to live for a long time. Because of its reputation for human longevity, southern Japan is known as “the land of immortals.” One of the mitigating factors of Okinawa is the Japanese concept of “ikigai.” This is the Japanese concept for “purpose in life.”

What is your ikigai? Clarity of purpose is one of the most powerful tools a leader has in their toolbox. A clear purpose pre-makes decisions, Particularly the hard ones.

The mission isn’t compelling.

If an organization exists for the mere purpose of “making money,” it’s not a big enough reason to move people. Humans (and Hobbits) need a larger purpose to motivate us beyond good food and smoke rings.

A mission must be compelling to be powerful. It should resonate with the core of who you are and what you’ve experienced. A leadership mission should be high-stakes. World-changing. A mission should be compelling enough for you to get up in the morning and do your thing. A compelling mission will motivate your team to follow you to the edge of Mount Doom and beyond.

A bland, generic, and forgotten mission statement on the wall in a break-room will never do.

The leaders are distracted.

Sometimes leaders get so caught up in the day-to-day that they forget why they’re here. It’s easy to embrace fun, small, off-mission side projects and forget about the real reason for your work and existence. I know many leaders who operate off-mission and unfulfilled. I’ve walked that road, myself.

Know your purpose.
Set your course.
Walk unwaveringly.

“The goal is not simply for you to cross the finish line, but to see how many people you can inspire to run with you.”