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Start with the end in mind 'it's not as easy as it sounds.
The second of Covey's habits of highly effective people is called "Start with the end in mind"
Seeing the heading, I instantly understood what this meant. "Know your target". In the few pages I flicked through, before reading the chapter, I saw discussions of visualisation and mission statements. I fully expected it to be an easy read, in the belief I at least, had this one all worked out.
How wrong could I be? This chapter I found to be a real point of commitment. I found out some very hard realities about what I was centering my decisions on and it has taken me a good month to work though it, so be prepared to really look at your self. If at all possible, now is a good time to find someone as a mentor and discuss parts of this with them. You don't have to tell them your life storey, just ask them what they see, and then you take that away and work on it for yourself.
Before we go any further, if you do not already have a copy of this book, you need to get one. To get through this, you need to study this chapter. There are quite a lot tables and diagrams that will help you.
This chapter is really about working out your 'end', not just the objective of the task at hand. We are talking personal mission statements. Ok, I can hear you "Not that old one again?" Well, yes. But this time for real.
Covey makes a good point. If you don't have an idea of what is important to you, how do you know what to do when a choice arises?
Defining your mission is about discovering your core principles.
"HOLD ON HOLD ON! I've heard this stuff before" I hear you say. Well so had I, but this time its different, this time we are going to do it! And this is why?
It's very hard to do, but once you work out your principles, you will no longer have to worry about each and every possible decision you might one day have to make. How much stress will that release immediately? From that moment on, for every decision you simply refer to your principles. Now if the answer does not feel right, you need to check your principles. All sounds a bit easy. Well, it is clearly not as simple as it sounds, but I have to admit it sounds a lot easier than spending every night imagining all possible decisions and trying to choose "what to do if".
As a leader, I used to try and consider all scenarios I might be faced with the following day and make decisions on my actions before they happened. I believed this would reduce the chance of making the wrong decision and looking like a poor leader. The result was erratic decisions, as reality was never quite how I imagined it and I found I would be jumping to wrong decisions.
I found the process of creating a mission very hard. In the end I had to just accept that while my mission was not poetic and did not include any great imagery, it was what I had managed to come up with after a great deal of effort and on that basis is a good start.
Now I have a collection of principles, that I am committed to and am beginning to make decisions based on these. Initially it was hard to trust the process, but slowly I am beginning to believe this is the right way and with a few changes here and there I am actually quite happy with how it's all working out.
This may sound drab, but the actual principles don't really matter that much, it is the process of coming to them that matters. It somehow prepares your mind to prefer certain outcomes and think about certain implications of your decisions that alter the way you consider your daily choices. For this reason you need to revisit your principles regularly to keep your mind 'skilled up' in this more holistic thought process.
Make the commitment and try this, it's not so much the mission statement at the end of the road that matters; it's the mental exercise of the journey.
If you are having trouble starting check out some of the free tools at:
Now more than ever, be brave and have a great journey.
About the Author
Hi, I have been slowly learning some of the key lessions fo Leadership, go to my web site to see my latest learnings: http://2leadership.com