The habit of Beginning with the End in Mind was introduced 25 years ago by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his groundbreaking bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In our latest point of view, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sales Leaders: Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind, we discuss how this principle of leadership can help you take charge of what you create and make you more likely to achieve it.
I’ve talked with hundreds of sales leaders who’ve said, “I wasn’t trained to be a sales leader. I was just a good individual contributor hitting my numbers, and someone asked me to take on this role. I didn’t get the role because I was already a great leader.” A powerful first step in becoming one is to define your End in Mind by developing a mission statement.
Whether you’ve just been promoted to sales leader or you’ve been one for many years, the habit of beginning with the End in Mind involves setting your own goals and intended accomplishments, identifying the roles you play, fixing your priorities, and then sharing those frequently with your team. This is a best practice for success whether you’re leading a small salesforce or a larger regional organization, or you’re in a more senior sales executive role. Then periodically re-center to your mission to make sure you’re still on track.
Why have a mission?
It seems so old-school. But the inarguable fact is there are always two creations to everything you see or experience. The first creation happens in your mind—it’s where you envision what you want to accomplish. And the second is when you align your actions to your imagination.
Nothing happens without those two creations. If you ignore this principle, it’s essentially the same as passively letting everyone and everything else around you decide what you will be and what you will do.
Furthermore, it’s surprisingly easy to drift away from what’s most important to you. When your mission is written down and you review it frequently, it becomes a personal constitution—the benchmark against which you measure your actions and decisions. It helps ensure you don’t drift unnoticeably off course, just as an airplane can be blown off course unless the pilot (or computer) makes adjustments to arrive at the right airport.
Building your mission
There’s power in envisioning what you intend to accomplish and even more so when you write it down, whether you call it a “mission,” a “purpose,” or anything else. Research shows that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.
But how do you go about developing a mission statement? You can’t just go to an offsite and bang it out in half a day wedged between other agenda items. Among other things, a mission statement should be aspirational and inspirational—and it should be realistic. In our experience that takes time, including soak time. FranklinCovey has created a mission-statement builder that walks you through the process.
You may decide to create both a professional (team) and an individual mission statement. It’s a good idea to have your team contribute to your team’s mission statement—when there’s no sense of contribution, there’s no commitment.
Staying on course
I drafted a personal mission statement a few years ago, and writing this reminded me to check it and see how much I’ve drifted. It’s interesting—and alarming—to realize how easily old habits creep back in.
Social situations or day-to-day pressures can cause us to behave in a certain predictable ways, and unless you periodically check yourself against what you envisioned, chances are good you’ll drift from your blueprint.
Stephen Covey used to teach the principle of Beginning with the End in Mind every week. No matter where he was in the world, he would review his goals each week in the context of his mission statement. He set goals for each of the roles he played. And he reviewed his mission statement periodically to make sure his day-to-day actions and decisions were aligned to his mission. He also occasionally and purposefully changed his mission as the context of his life changed, sometimes affected by major events. Don’t hesitate to update or change your mission statement.
What’s in your mission statement? And how often do you review it? What other tools have you found helpful in setting and achieving your goals? Read our latest point of view for additional insights on how you can stay on course.
People define and interpret personal leadership in many ways. Some may view personal leadership as self-advocacy or self-learning. Others may see it as providing for a family or working those ten extra hours each week to impress a boss. Students may see personal leadership as getting straight A’s or going to office hours to familiarize themselves with their professors. Those all seem like viable means to achieve one’s greater goals, but they all stem from some sort of singular centeredness.
In Steven R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, his second habit touches on the ways in which many of us seem to view things through a specific centered lens. Here is a list of the types of “centered-mindedness” Covey discusses in this chapter:
One way Covey shows his readers how to determine where they have centered themselves is by breaking up the idea of the center into four main components: security, guidance, wisdom, and power. He explains that all these are somehow intertwined and interdependent, stemming from the center to create your own personality, character, and individual.
In this post, I will give you an example of how a person would act in certain situations while looking through these lenses. At the same time, I will show how these four main components–security, guidance, wisdom, and power–are derived from these various centers.
A Short Story
“Sam, you did it again!” screamed a charging, wild-eyed girl about half of Sam’s size. The girl threw her arms around Sam’s waist. “I knew you could do it!” the little girl continued, nodding fiercely. “4 seconds left on the clock and swish! Kobe couldn’t do that, no way.”
Sam laughed and picked his little sister up above the mob of happy parents, teammates, and friends. Undefeated, he thought.
On the way home, Sam’s mom and dad called every single one of Sam’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to tell them the good news. “My son’s a basketball star!” roared Mr. Cooper on the telephone with his sister. “You should’ve been there, Annie. That boy has a future set for him. The Coopers are shaking up this small town!”
Sam winced in the backseat. He hated it when his father said things like that. Basketball, basketball, basketball. It had nearly been his entire life. In 8th grade he was already 6’1. By his senior year in high school, he was nearly 6’8. Colleges scouted for him, pestered him, spammed him to consider joining their roster.
“We’ve got a place for you on our team, Sam,” said a man from Kansas State. “Mom, Dad, and your little sister would love to see you win a NCAA championship.”
“We know your family is going through some difficult times. Don’t worry about your tuition, son. Ohio State has you covered,” said another.
“You have a sister don’t you?” asked a woman from Duke. “Sam, if you join our team, we will guarantee little Phoebe a spot at our university when she decides to apply.”
“Sam, don’t limit yourself to small town victories,” said a man from Georgetown. “The Cooper family needs someone like you to carry on a legacy, even to the NBA.”
At home, Sam sifted through the mail waiting for him on his bed. “More basketball,” he said to himself as he began throwing the mail away. There was one envelope he did decide to keep, however. It was a letter from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. He smiled as he reread the invitation letter for the fourth time. Culinary school, he thought. I do love cooking.But what’s a giant like me going to do in a kitchen?
He looked at himself in the mirror. I do like that one Pixar movie with the little rat. I guess we both have something in common–we just wouldn’t fit in. Mom and dad are counting on me for this scholarship. They want me to get out of this small town. Phoebe does, too. But I do love cooking.
The next day, Sam called the man from Ohio State. “Hi, Mr. Parker? It’s Sam Cooper from–yeah, that’s me. Um, I’m calling to accept that offer. When can I start?”
You might have guessed that Sam is what Covey labels as family-centered. His main concern is his family, particularly how they view him.
His security is based on how they accept him as a person and how he fulfills their expectations. By examining Phoebe’s reaction to basketball victory, she expects him to continue giving her happiness by playing college basketball. Sam himself feels that his self-worth is based on his family’s reputation.
Through family centeredness, Sam’s guidance causes his decision-making to be based on what he feels is good for the family, or what his family members want. Financial strain on the family causes Sam to reconsider giving up a money-making opportunity such as basketball.
His wisdomcauses him to interpret all of life in terms of his family, “creating a partial understanding and family narcissism.” Sam sacrifices his own dreams to fulfill the dreams of his own family.
Finally, his power is limited by family models and traditions. Sam senses the peculiarity of living the life of a chef, particularly a chef with the build of an athlete. He feels that this would stray too far from the traditions of his family and the way his family is built. Ultimately, he loses control of his wants and aims.
Similarly, this situation can be seen through any of the lenses that Covey discusses. If Sam was looking through a money-centered lens, his main dilemma would be deciding which path would reap him the most money. He would’ve decided to become a basketball player because he sees more economic profit through that occupation.
If he was possession-centered, his thoughts would dwell on the things he could buy with the money he earns from becoming a basketball player or the sort of perks that come with being a famous athlete.
If Sam was enemy-centered, he may choose to play college basketball because a high school rival of his decided to play college basketball. If Sam decided to go to culinary school, he wouldn’t be able to live with knowing that someone bested him at a sport he excelled at.
So what does Covey suggest will remedy this problem of specific centeredness? Well, he says to view the world through the lens of principle centeredness. He says, “As a principle-centered person, you try to stand apart form the emotion of the situation and from other facts that old act on you, and evaluate the options.”
Here is what Sam should have done and thought about when making his decision:
1. He needed to make his decision consciously and knowledgeably by not acting upon other people or circumstances.
2. He needed to realize that his decision is the most effective because it is based on principles with predictable long-term results.
3. His decision needed to contribute to his ultimate values in life.
4. He should have communicated to his parents and to his sister about his dilemma.
5. He needed to be comfortable with his decision. Sam clearly wasn’t.
To achieve personal leadership, we need to keep these five things in mind when making large, influential decisions. Notice that these five principles stem from a larger picture–what Covey calls “the end mind”. He suggests to write a personal mission statement, a blueprint to the ultimate structure of your life. What do see yourself doing at the end of your life? It sounds depressing, but think about it. At your funeral, how do you want people to perceive you? What things do you want them to remember you by? What life goals do you want to achieve before you get to that point?
This is what Covey means by beginning with the end mind. Everyday, make a conscious effort to begin with the end mind. Be conscious of your goals, who you want to be, what you want to do. Make decisions that will help you get to that ultimate goal, that ultimate person, that blueprint. It’s definitely not a process that happens in one day, Covey says. Habits aren’t developed in one instance.
Post submitted by Crystal Maranan