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Purpose, Paths & Missions | Mark Wales | Leadership Speaker - 28 January 2019

Purpose, Paths & Missions | Mark Wales | Leadership Speaker

Mark Wales is an extraordinarily skilled person. As a former SAS Troop Commander, Mark carries an impeccable military career that took him to Afghanistan on multiple tours, leading elite teams in the toughest and most stressful environments. Mark now dedicates his life to educating others on leadership, strategy and peak performance while under stress. Mark is a fresh and impressive speaker right from the opening line, delivering his message in a clear and engaging way that leaves his audience empowered.

 “No matter which path you are on, always do this: Question your path!”

- Mehmet Murat Ildan

"Never give in…. except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

- Winston Churchill

Mission first, always

In 2006, I remember standing in a command post during my first tour in Afghanistan. I had been handed a Top Secret campaign plan that discussed all the war phases that extended into 2012. Year by year, we would be ‘degrading the Taliban and Al Qaeda, installing a stable police force, and improving governance’. I remember thinking “there is no way on Earth we will still be in Afghanistan in 2012.” 18 years after the war began, the first troops that were born after the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks are about to serve in America’s longest war.

I realise now that constantly examining your mission - your purpose - is a critical task. It keeps you in worthy battles and allows you to recognise ‘mission creep’ quickly.

When I left the military, I joined a top consulting firm and was impressed to see that defining the problem was seen as the first step in the ‘problem solving’ approach. This was the precursor to a clear mission statement that included the parameters for success. These were often tied to a clear timeframe and measurable output.

Taking the time to define exactly what the problem is that you are solving is an important step. We called it ‘Mission Analysis’ when I was in the military. The maxim that ‘plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy’ I found to be true most of the time. Often our mission would be rendered irrelevant early in an operation. This would mean discarding old plans and adapting to the new reality our inconsiderate enemies imposed on us.

Teams that constantly check in on their initial reasons for fighting, can quickly prevent themselves from going down the wrong path. Management guru Peter Drucker summed it up well: 'there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.'

It is worth constantly revisiting why you chose the path you are on

You may find your mission is no longer relevant. If the reasons stand, then commit in full.

It’s worth considering not just how you fight, but why you chose the battle you are in.

Mission first, always.

Discover more about Mark here.

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