Mission Trumps Position

Does the name Babe Ruth ring a bell? The avid sports fan certainly knows who that is. Even the less acquainted are likely aware that he held the Major League Baseball record for homeruns for almost forty years before being surpassed by Hank Aaron. During the three years prior to Ruth’s dramatic hitting career, a young pitcher on the same team recorded a 2.28 earned run average as a starter and had a winning percentage of .671. Do you happen to know who that was?  Yes, you sports geeks know exactly who I am talking about. The young pitcher was none other than Babe Ruth. Ruth was on his way to perhaps becoming a Hall of Fame pitcher with stats like those.


However, he did not continue to serve the team as a starting pitcher. The coach determined that he would be more valuable playing every day, going to the plate four to six times per game, to drive in runs and give the offense a punch. He did not know that he would set the record for home runs when the change was made. What if he had balked at the decision? (I could not resist the pun.) You may have never heard of him. Who knows how the rest of his career may have gone as a pitcher. He may have excelled or he may have flopped. We will never know. What if he said, “I don’t want to play every day. I like pitching every fourth game.” What if he liked the spotlight of being before the crowd for every pitch instead of only five or six plate appearances?

What about you and your role? Do you like your position in the organization? You should at least have some affection for it and there is no harm in aspiring to greater things. However, a leader should never have the attitude of “I don’t know what I would do if I could not do this job (hold this position).” A growing leader is capable of holding several different positions with a degree of effectiveness and will excel where he or she is placed in the existing organization or in another organization for that matter. For one to possess the attitude that they cannot thrive in any other positon or any other place than where they are is not flattering. Hyper-specialization should not be confused with limited skill sets and lack of personal development. You serve your organization to help accomplish the mission. The mission must be superior in priority to your position. Otherwise, unhealthy internal competition, diminishing competence, and the undermining of your own credibility will result. You will best help those you serve now and in the future by placing more emphasis on the mission and less emphasis on your position. It is commitment to the mission that will get your organization to where it needs to be no matter what your position may be. The mission must take precedence over your position!