I read an article this morning on HBR about Bruce Springsteen. I know. HBR is not my normal morning read, nor am I a big Springsteen fan. His music calls to mind being a kid in the back of my Mother's VW vanagon on the way to the dentist. Not exactly a great memory association.
But I've long believed in artists as leaders, so the title, "Bruce Springsteen, Artful Leadership, and what Rock Star Bosses Do" sucked me right in. Actually "Artful Leadership" sucked me right in.
A solid read, the article offers a definition of leadership I really like: "imagination on others' behalf." This is so much of what an artist does, using empathy to understand others and the world around her. Putting that feeling into words, design, music, products.
In my work as a freelance consultant, I've had the opportunity to work with diverse people and companies. Some of those I've worked with had a very strong sense of self. Others were struggling to find, or rather embrace, their identity.
It's absolutely no coincidence that the work I produced for the clients with a clear mission was far more inspired and, simply put, better. A clear vision inspires.
A couple years back, on my own ever-unfolding journey of self-discovery, Laurie Ruettimann, a colleague I very much respect and admire, told me:
"You know yourself. Make your business plan. If not now, when? I think now is the only time."
This took me by surprise at the time. I know myself? I didn't feel like I did. I felt like I was trying to figure this out! But she was right--I did know myself. And so do you. Don't overcomplicate this "mission" stuff. Your mission is already in you. Look closely. It's in what you hope for and what you've already brought into this world.
It's in the song you sing.