In August 2019 the MSU Judicial Administration Program will end, but the legacy that the partnership created will not—self-directed, motivated, and passionate court personnel who believe that people who fall on bad times deserve second chances.
If you are an MSU student reading this article, it is a reminder to stay the course of excellence and “work your plan.” If you are reading this article and you are not an MSU student, I encourage you to develop a plan for your life and not to give up until you succeed.
Mission Statements and Values
Organizations have mission statements? Do you? Knowing your mission will keep you from getting lost. When you have a mission, you always have a purpose. This knowing will guide your selection of partners, friends, and jobs. Know your mission! Know yourself!
Defining your mission is an exercise in defining your values. Values are expressed as deeply held beliefs. You express your values every day in how you talk, where you go, what you do, and whom you associate with. Your credibility will be measured by whether there is any incongruity in what you say and what you do.
Kouzes and Posner (2017) wrote about expressing values in leadership as a person finding their voice. “To find your voice, you have to discover what you care about, what defines you, and what makes you who you are. You have to explore your inner self. You can only be authentic when you lead according to the principles that matter most to you” (Ibid., 50). This admonition is true whether or not you are in a leadership position. But, you cannot become a leader unless you speak with an authentic voice.
People seldom act against their values. Therefore your personal mission statement is a statement of your values. Carefully consider how you describe your mission. Does it represent your true beliefs? Does it forecast what you will do in all circumstances?
Having a Vision
Do you have a vision for your life? It is easy to live from one chaotic event to another, from one responsibility to another, and from one job to another. Holding a vision for your life that inspires you—one you can be passionate about—is living a life of the possible. Dream!
Know Your Stakeholders
Who are your champions and who are your detractors? Everyone has both. Stakeholders can either help or hurt you. Conduct an honest inventory and determine the impact your stakeholders can have. Remember they may not be where you expect them to be and they may not do what you expect them to do. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Make a Plan with a Starting and Ending Point
You can have a mission and vision and know your stakeholders and still not be able to begin. You need a plan with actionable steps and deadlines. Without a plan you will have nothing but a dream. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish and by when.
SWOT Your Strategic Plan
What strengths do you have that will help you achieve your vision? Do an inventory and answer the question: What makes me uniquely qualified to live the life of my dreams?
Where are your weaknesses? Is there something that you need to improve upon before you can move forward? Do not think that you can wish away those weaknesses. You can’t. If you need more education or greater networks or a different geographic location find a way to fix what’s wrong. No one else will do it for you. You cannot expect someone else to clear the way for your dreams.
Look far and wide for opportunities that will bring you one step closer to realizing your vision. Never miss an opportunity.
Last, threats will exist and it is up to you to neutralize them. First you have to identify them and know how they can stop you and how you can stop them. Be honest with yourself and act!
Invite others on your journey and include them in your celebrations. Everyone loves a party. Everyone wants to celebrate. As you live your mission and vision, there will be many people who cheered for you, opened doors for you, and cried with you. As you celebrate together you will motivate them to realize their own dreams. There is nothing more important than facilitating the dreams of others.
The Path of Least Resistance
Physics has taught us that everything in the universe is made up of energy and energy travels the path of least resistance. It stands to reason, then, that if you want the life of your dreams you must develop a new path for the energy to travel. You must have a vision for the result you want to create or the energy has no path to follow. Be honest about where you are now. Appreciate your current reality and simultaneously put your focus on the vision you wish to achieve. Adjustments may be required but giving up the vision is not. Robert Fritz described this process very well:
You are never the victim of your circumstances. These circumstances are simply part of the raw material of the creative process. Learning to create is very natural…The instinct to create does not go away. It seeks expression. When you create, you align yourself with your most natural state of being. As a consequence, many of the difficulties of your life either disappear or are no longer important issues for you. In the orientation of the creative the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of your being realign themselves and work in harmony. Based on their realignment, the path of least resistance in your life leads you toward fulfilling your deepest and most profound life purpose. (Fritz, 1984, 148-149)
As Bob Dylan famously sang “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Strategic planning is important for organizations and it is important for individuals, as both are facing rapid change the likes of which we have not seen before. The next wave of innovation and globalization will usher in a new economy. All organizations and individuals will be affected. The industries of the next 20 years will be built around “…robotics, advanced life sciences, the code-ification of money, cybersecurity, and big data—as well as the geopolitical, cultural, and generational contexts out of which they are emerging” (Ross 2016, 12). Considering what is to come, have a plan and work your plan.
Bryson, John M. 2011. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. Fourth Edition. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Fritz, Robert. 1984. The Path of Least Resistance. Salem, MA: Stillpoint Publishing Company.
Kouzes, James M. and Barry Z. Posner. 2017. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations. Sixth Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Ross, Alex. 2016. The Industries of the Future. New York, NY: Simon Schuster.