Clarity of Mission and Purpose

Why, for nearly all of us, does it take a life-altering event to bring our lives into focus? To force clarity on our mission and purpose?

An unexpected illness or even life-ending diagnosis. A job loss or dissolution of our marriage or the end of an equally important relationship. A car crash, sporting accident, or other event that shocks us into gaining long-delayed perspective.

I’m no psychologist, but it seems to be our nature to skate through life heads down, not living with the intention and gratitude we see in others who’ve been impacted by an often-external force of events.

The On Leadership interview with Zafar Masud defies description here. Up until the pandemic, I flew weekly for nearly 30 years and am a “Two-Million Miler” on Delta alone. Not a badge of honor by any stretch—I don’t miss that life one bit! But I certainly was riveted by his description of the crash that took the lives of everyone on the Pakistani passenger jet other than his and that of one other person.

This is an episode you cannot miss.

While he was describing the details of the day, I couldn’t help but think of my three sons. What would their lives be like without a father? What struggles would they face, and perhaps succumb to, if I wasn’t around to teach and coach them through? I had to intentionally check back into our conversation to prevent myself from becoming emotional and distracting from Zafar’s story.

I was reminded of the exercise we teach in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People work session when participants design a mission statement. Dr. Covey teaches, through video, the concept of visualizing your eightieth birthday. Who’s there? What are they saying about you? What has been the impact of your life thus far on others and what will be your legacy in the years to come?

Ask yourself that exact question:

Should you be so fortunate to be alive for your eightieth birthday, who will join you? What will they say about you? What will your impact be on them?

Like Zafar, you still have time to shape that conversation—and pick out your cake!

Not much I can write in this blog compares to the impact of watching Zafar’s interview. I hope you’ll invest the time to do so.

And to the passengers and crew who perished on that flight, and to their family and friends, please know some people’s lives will be impacted for the better as a result of listening to Zafar’s story of survival. We hope you find some peace in that.


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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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