Getting Back to Basics: What’s the Mission?

29 Jul

I’m still thinking about the many leadership discussions I was a part of during my time at Harvard Executive Education Program two weeks ago.

One of the best parts of the program for me (besides getting to meet some fabulous new colleagues) was the direct line of questioning that many of the seminars placed before us.

One day a professor asked my class of 150 non-profit leaders: “Is what you are doing valuable and are you really doing it?”

Such a question truly got each of us thinking again about our own unique missions.

And in my case the mission of Feed The Children is: to provide hope and resources to those without life’s essentials.

Is this a valuable mission? I think this is a no brainer… yes. There are so many children and families around our world that truly need our help.

But are we really fulfilling our mission? In many ways we definitely are…

Over 350,000 children are fed each school day because of the work of Feed The Children around the world

In 2012, in the United States, we provided $287 million dollars worth of food and essentials to children and their families.

And all of this is wonderful, but I believe we can do more. Yes, I said it. MORE. We could be more valuable to those we serve.

The goal I’ve set before my staff is that I would like to feed a million kids a school day. Yes, one million kids!

In the past year as we push our efforts in this direction, I’ve asked a lot out of the dedicated team that I work alongside.

I’ve asked them to leave their comfort zones behind — what worked for us in the past.

I’ve asked them to dream bigger.

I’ve asked them to work together across the organization in ways they’ve never tried before.

Most of all I’ve asked our leadership team to be ambassadors for the question, “Does ___ action help further our mission? . . . And if not, why are we doing it?”

Such is never an easy question to ask. It can rattle the foundation on which you stand. It can mean that financial priorities have to completely shift. It can mean that in order to do something really well, you have to be OK with not doing other things that are worthwhile, but don’t go back to your mission.

But another great quote I heard while I was at Harvard was, “No one brings the full package . . . What we do is a team sport.”

This fact is great news for leaders like me who are such a fan of adaptive leadership. Together we can find solutions to any problem we face along the way — if we just stick together! I can’t do it alone, nor can any member of my team.

From my chair, it’s exciting to see more effective programming and strategies emerge for the future. But, I also know it is scary too—- change never comes without some fear.

But as Nietzsche once said, “The most common form of human stupidity is forgetting what we’re trying to accomplish.” We can’t forget. There are too many children counting on us!

I won’t forget thanks to “time-outs” like I had a couple of weeks ago at Harvard, a dedicated staff who encourages me each day to do all I can to further the mission of FTC, and such a valuable mission that gets me out of bed in the morning, even on my hardest days.

I’m here because at Feed The Children we don’t want to see any child go without food or life’s essentials, and I’m confident that together we’re building a team that ensures we’ll live up to that mission!

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2 Responses to “Getting Back to Basics: What’s the Mission?”

  1. Jane McClelland July 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Kevin I’ve been on one of your teams I in the past and I would get on another team any day if the week. FTC is blessed to have a leader like you. As Michael Jordan would say ” there is no “I” in team but there is in “Win”. And you are winning 😉

  2. javier torres July 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Señor kevin admiro y respeto muchos sus ideas y me parecen muy interesantes, yo Javier Torres pertenezco a F.T.C. en Honduras ubicado en La Ceiba, Atlantida y me gustaria que platicaramos personalmente muy agradecido Javier Torres

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