I’ve been recently dealing with a death in the family, which instantly changed my perspective on what’s really critical in life.

I understand being very focused on business issues, customers, employees, and profitability. Yes, those are important.

At the same time, we all realize that there are other things which push those to the background. If you’re sick, you’ll focus on that so you can get back to business and give it the time and energy it deserves.

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We work our butts off, and do everything we can for business success. Many times it feels like I’m so tied up in it that there’s nothing else.

Then something comes up that makes me realize there are more important things.

My mother died recently, so of course there a lot of logistical things to take care. But more important are the relationships I’m reconnecting, all over the world. And it’s fascinating to see how my friends and colleagues support me, even though they never met her.

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I’ve been talking about the three key dimensions of a company’s mission. Starting with delivering value for customers, we then added articulating what the value is for us, the team.

Finally, let’s talk about how a Mission captures value for the world. This might stretch your comfort zone, but stay with me here.

The good news is that you get to define “world” for your organization. It could be the local community, society at large, your industry, or even literally the whole world.

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Last week I talked about how we know when a company’s mission is truly a solid foundation, starting with delivering value to customers.

The second dimension is delivering value to us: our leaders, employees, contractors, partners, … anyone who is involved with creating and supplying products and services to those customers.

If you have a non-profit, feel free to change the language. But the concept is the same.

We won’t be able to continue, sustainably, unless WE want to do it. Again and again, year after year. And this is captured by a powerful mission statement.

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I had a powerful conversation recently with someone, exploring the nature of having an organizational mission. In my view, this is the absolute foundation for everything you do. So I’m going to explore this in the coming weeks.

I admit I’m a bit hesitant to start with your customers, but that’s where everything begins. The fact is that you need to supply value to customers, otherwise your business is not sustainable.

If you’re a non-profit, I understand that you might not want to call them “customers.” That’s fine. Call them beneficiaries, sponsors and donors. The fact is that you must deliver continuing value over the long term, or you’re going to fold.

So why am I reluctant to start with customers?

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Perhaps you’ve noticed that some relationships have drifted a bit over the recent months. The fact is that all connections will tend to wither if not tended to, and communication has become difficult.

For me at least, it seems like I’m doing a lot more communicating than I did last year. With end-to-end Zoom meetings and a deluge of emails, I certainly am having many conversations. But are relationships suffering?

Well, there are different levels of communication. Humans are inherently social animals, and we need regular interaction to be happy and get things done. Yes, even introverts.

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We have a new term for overloading yourself with negative information: Doomscrolling.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to spending too much time on your newsfeed, looking for the next thing to worry about. And right now, people are capturing a whole lot to worry about.

It occurred to me, though, that this is just the most recent form of something which has existed for my entire lifetime:

  • The need to keep current with all the newspapers
  • Devouring news magazines
  • The 24 hour TV newscycle
  • General news websites
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Things are changing quickly, but making progress slowly. It’s all very confusing.

Certainly my sense of time has gotten all screwed up since March.

The challenge is that you, as leader, are tasked with leading communication for your organization.

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The world is an incredibly complicated place, and it drives me nuts sometimes.

Just when I think I’ve teased apart one problem, I find it’s connected to something else. And on and on!

So how should we deal with this fact of life?

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Optimism is a key tool of leadership. Why? Because it creates energy in yourself and others, helping people to focus on moving forward rather than retracting in despair.

But the word “optimism” tends to feel a little bit forced these days; it sounds like maybe it’s something you’re either born with or not.

So I’m working on building my intentional positivity.

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