If you aim at nothing, you get nothing

Since January 16, 2009, I have been focused on aligning around my new mission, which included becoming a mission-focused servant leader and fulfilling promises I had made but had yet to fulfill. While these were massive initiatives, I started by instilling four tried-and-true leadership strategies that paved the way to progress toward my mission and post-traumatic growth.

One lesson I learned while going for my Life Badge with the Boy Scouts was that if you aim at nothing, you get nothing. While working towards attaining my archery merit badge, I decided to pick up the bow and arrow and make it happen. I had athletic talent and was focused on my mission of ultimately earning my Eagle Scout. But at Camp Lazurus in Delaware, Ohio, summer camp, I quickly learned that to be an archer, you must focus on your aim.

After I shot a couple of arrows, the scoutmaster that was leading this endeavor instructed me on how to hold the bow and shoot, and that if I was going to progress and attain the Archery merit badge, I needed to focus and aim as if I aimed at nothing, I would not get my outcome. I ultimately earned the Archery merit badge, but it was more painful than I thought.

That lesson stayed with me, and though I admit, there were times in my life when I either forgot it or didn’t “aim,” I just fired.

After the Miracle on the Hudson, my focus changed, and I returned to that lesson; it helped me progress toward my mission. When I committed and “aimed my arrow’ and used these four leadership strategies, it helped me make significant progress toward my mission and helped me grow out of a traumatic life event and through the recent pandemic.

  1. Live your values at every level– Your culture can be traced back to your experiences and interactions through consistency, habits, and reputation. As I talk about in each of my talks and workshops, what my mother told me was correct, “do the right thing” in everything you do. I have high expectations for my small company and me, and we work to extend these expectations for how we support our clients. We focus on kindness and professionalism to create a relationship so our clients will not only receive what they expect but exceed their expectations.
  2. Expect Change and Pivot Challenges into Success– As I learned many years ago, “Change is inevitable. Progress is not.” Challenges should keep your mission the same; only the approach should be modified to progress toward your mission. Any challenge, whether by a force of nature or circumstances, is an opportunity to pivot, evolve and improve. Each challenge is a new chance to solidify your mission to give outstanding results. Numbers may change, but the ability to drive toward success is rooted in your culture. This will give you a significant advantage in helping your clients, and business attain results and progress toward your mission.
  3. Connection and Communication are key– One of the things I always point out when I speak is the clear and concise communication used by the crew on January 15, 2009. It was essential and critical in how everybody responded during the rescue. This also extends to little things, such as showing up on time and working through your agenda. Consistency in communication is essential. One challenge we all have right now, and I have shared this many times with people I work with, is that there are many ways to communicate. Leveraging email, text, chats, or Slack should complement traditional resources such as a phone call or physical meeting that can accomplish your outcome more effectively. A robust and consistent communication approach where your organization or personal mission’s outcomes are referenced and reinforced is essential.
  4. Lead like a Lion– People ask me why a lion. I have learned that a lion is not the fastest animal (the cheetah) or the largest (the African Elephant). Still, the lion understands a critical attribute that I struggled with for many years, balance. The Lion focuses on building a community environment that supports stability and consistency with deep pride and loyalty. A lion has the willingness to work together to achieve their mission. I first learned how out of balance I was when I first went to Fiji and saw how happy the residents were. In Fiji, the people focus on harmony and happiness. There are times when I get out of balance, but when I remember the lion and the mission, I can reset myself and return to first to serve, then be served.

That lesson at Boy Scout camp is one of my greatest lessons. When I start to go random and not aim, I am not living my values and being congruent. I have been blessed to have mentors and coaches who notice when I am off course. That is why it is so important to have a mentor, coach or wingman in your life that has your best interest at heart and will help you get back on track.

The best leaders listen to their hearts in addition to their minds and recognize that they can make the best impact when they CANI, constant and never-ending improvement to themselves first, their organizations, and their communities. They stay aligned with their mission, don’t stray off their values, and can pivot while maintaining them.

Their legacy is built and maintained by living their values, in sync with their faith, and focused on serving first.

Take the next week and read your mission out loud every day and these four strategies, and you will be on your way to creating opportunity out of any uncertainty and creating your flight plan for your future.