One of the first leadership books I remember reading years ago was Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The habit that has most stuck with me from that book in both my personal and professional life is Habit #2 - Begin with the end in mind. Living out this principle can provide you with better relationships at home, more successful projects at work, deeper friendships and even greater financial security.
This simple and wise advice to pay attention to the beginning of things is often overlooked for a number of foolish reasons. Sometimes we don’t consider the beginning of an activity important because we are just getting the feel for it. Other times we try to conserve energy at the start so we will end well. Still other times we expend far too much energy on the front end and fizzle out at the finish.
I have often heard it said, “It is more important how you end than how you begin.” While it is hard to argue this point I would also say, “How you end is largely determined by how you begin.”
Much has been written about this principle of “begin with the end in mind,” but today my aim is to apply it to a single day. If you are like me you sometimes arrive at the end of a day with disappointment in your lack of focus or productivity. Which of us has not finished a day regretting opportunities missed or wishing for a do over? Since we don’t get do overs in life it is critical we live each day to its fullest. In my effort to do this I have written a personal commitment statement that I read nearly every morning. It is how I begin my day in hopes that the moments between the beginning and the end are lived with purpose. I share it with you today in hopes it will help you write one of your own and more importantly live it out. As you read my statement you will see it reflects my worldview as a follow of Jesus. While I hope you too would consider adopting a Christ-centered worldview, the idea of beginning your day with the end in mind will serve you well regardless of the lens through which you see.
This is what I read each morning:
I wake up this morning knowing that I have been given the amazing gift of another day. How I use this day is my gift to God and the world I live in. There will be no other day like this one, with unique opportunities to grow and serve others. I will live this day with purpose, direction and meaning. The world will be different and better because of what I do today.
I will seek to abide with Christ today and grow closer to Him. I will say yes to Christ and no to the harmful desires in me and around me because Christ in me is stronger than any opposition.
I will grow in my love for people today and believe the best about them. I will be available to others. I will speak words and display actions that build others up.
I will take care of myself today by eating well and exercising so I can better serve God and others. I am blessed beyond measure, having far more materially, educationally, relationally and spiritually than most of the world’s population. I am responsible to use what I have been given to serve others, especially those who have less.
I will grow professionally today. I will be creative, driven, and disciplined. I will bring energy and passion. I will have fun. I will take risks. I will give my best. I will develop leaders. I will encourage, challenge, resource, celebrate and pray for those I lead.
I will love my wife and children and be willing to pay any price to serve them. They are my greatest earthly gifts. I will pray for them and pursue ever deepening relationships with them. I will seek to encourage them in their pursuit of Jesus and in the other passions in their lives.
When my head hits the pillow tonight I will know that I have given my absolute best.
My purpose in life is to reflect Christ to everyone I encounter and to maximize my influence by strategically investing my energy and resources in His kingdom purposes.
My purpose at work is to honor God by teaching, training and coaching leaders to maximize their influence at work and at home.
I must admit I have yet to live these words out perfectly. But I am convinced I am getting closer to the bullseye because of my commitment to begin my days with the end in mind.
How about you? How do you begin your day? What adjustments can you make to set yourself up for success? Write out a commitment statement of your own and seek to live by it this week.