My husband, Larry, writes this month’s blog. He served as a surface warfare officer in two guided missile destroyers, a guided missile cruiser, and a fleet frigate. Ashore he served in Naval Intelligence in Japan, on the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff in the Pentagon, with the Defense Nuclear Agency in Hawaii and Albuquerque, and as the first commanding officer of U.S. Naval Station, Pascagoula, Mississippi. Larry has spoken professionally on leadership, innovation, and teamwork for the past twenty years. His website has more details: www.YourFinestHour.com.
When I commanded Naval Station Pascagoula (affectionately known in south Mississippi as the “Homeport”), I discovered early on that each member of my military and civilian staff had a different idea of what his or her mission was. The travel clerk thought her mission was to save the government the most money when issuing travel orders. The galley petty officer in charge thought his mission was to have the best looking galley in the fleet. The fire chief thought his mission was to respond the quickest to any emergency on the base.
Were they wrong? No, but their understanding of their mission was not likely to keep them motivated over a period of time.
What was missing? The passion that comes from being part of a bigger picture. In this case, they were part of the command’s mission to provide quality support to the fleet and their families (10 warships and over 4,500 sailors and their families). Their individual responsibilities contributed to the shared mission of the base. To remind them, I added it to the sign at our main gate.
So what is a mission? A clear, concise, and memorable stated purpose that guides one’s actions. A mission is practical, and it works by channeling the talents, creativity, and energy of the participants into actions that will lead to success. No mission, however, succeeds without passion, because passion is what keeps one going when the inevitable bumps appear in the road.
What was Naomi’s mission? Her responsibilities included conducting in-depth research, responding to productive criticism, and rewriting as many times as necessary to produce a quality story. Her mission – which gave her the passion to carry out extensive research and rewrites – was to make something positive come out of the Hurricane Katrina experience by giving others hope that healing is possible, even from devastating events.
In The Mission Naomi recounts events of international and domestic terrorism that occurred in London from 2001 to 2003. Each of her characters has a specific mission, from Jenny, Colin, and Sergeant Casey to Alcina, Chaplain Goodwyn, and Dr. Knowles.
Because we live in a dynamic world, missions sometimes change, and the characters in Naomi’s dynamic story had to be resilient enough to refine, modify, or even abandon their mission if the circumstances changed sufficiently.
In our lives we can use the Shewhart Cycle, cited in my book, Ready, Begin! Practical Strategies for Cultivating Courage, to help us implement our mission and then refine it as necessary.
The more we use the Shewhart Cycle, the better we will become at refining our actions. After time and experience to come into play, we will be able to master and internalize the process (as Sergeant Casey would say, “adopt the mindset”) for dealing with change that will yield positive results.
So what is your mission? Can you state it in one or two sentences? And most important, why is it your mission? If you don’t have incredibly compelling reasons for pursuing your mission, you will not be able to maintain the energy and enthusiasm necessary to see it through when the obstacles seem overwhelming.
There were days when Naomi struggled, when she couldn’t find the information she needed or couldn’t find the words to express what her characters were feeling. When she thought about her mission, however, she knew she couldn’t quit, no matter how difficult the process. It was the “why” that kept her going. Giving others the hope for healing was simply too important a goal to give up. The “why” quickened her spirit and gave her the strength to recommit to her mission. Mission plus passion led to success.
STOP THE PRESSES—NAOMI in the NEWS
Plano Star Courier of Plano, Texas in the 30 May 2015 issue
Ham & High of Hampstead and Highgate, London, UK in the 23 August 2015 issue
Here’s what one reader recently shared about The Mission on Amazon:
A Real Page Turner
Incredible writer! Naomi Kryske created memorable characters and a compelling plot and wrapped them all up in a setting I’d like to visit. She broke my heart and then mended it again. I couldn’t put The Mission down.