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Insights: Your Personal Mission
July 27, 2010
Your Personal Mission
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"It is the mission of the twentieth century to elucidate the irrational."
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty
A partner and good friend of mine are in the process of establishing a new online business that will seek to tackle the issue of how to enjoy a life characterized by a harmonious balance of spiritual growth and earthly abundance - two concepts that many believe to be uncomfortable bedfellows and others feel are totally incompatible.
Our experience has shown that most people have great yearnings to grow and develop as people - and to follow a path that is both satisfying and profoundly meaningful - but instead find their time sucked away spent figuring out where the next buck is going to come from.
The complex interaction between competing priorities that so many have experienced for so long has had the unfortunate effect of ingraining in parts of our society the belief that financial abundance and authentic spiritual growth can never coexist.
Describing our mission
Our mission - at a high level - is to attempt to bridge this divide, helping people to pursue both with confidence and comfort...
...But more of that in a few weeks time when we are ready to launch our new website!
The point is that we discussed at some length how we should describe our mission (what it is we seek to do and achieve through the new business) and that got me thinking about how important mission statements are, not only for businesses but individuals as well!
Understanding what we stand for
Some years ago, while on an leadership training program, I was confronted with the task of describing to the assembled group of about 30 senior and middle managers, what I, personally, stood for in the context of the business that we were all part of.
It was an eye-opening exercise and one that I would guess few people - surprisingly - ever come to terms with.
The concept of a personal mission can be closely linked to life purpose. But whereas one's life purpose can be seen as the overarching raison d'être for one's existence, a personal mission can be context-specific.
So, you might have a personal mission within your business life, one that relates to your family life and one that relates to your interaction with other people, for example.
I hereby proclaim...
As I stood there in front of my colleagues, I tried to think about what it was that was my driving force as a leader, what was it that, above all, that I stood for and set out to do in a leadership role. Here's what I said...
"I proclaim that as a leader in this business I stand for inspired people. It is my personal mission to use my position to make a difference that enhances the quality of life of the people I lead."
I guess I had always known, in my heart, that motivating and inspiring people was part of my DNA in the organizational context - but I had never before had the opportunity to proclaim it in words in front of others.
A galvanizing effect
I have to admit that the process of thinking about and then verbalizing my personal mission had an exciting and galvanizing effect on me (as it did on many of my colleagues). It suddenly became a clear point of reference against which I could measure and judge my actions as a leader. And that really helped to bring real meaning and substance to my business life.
Not only that, but listening to my colleagues vocalize their own personal missions with pride and purpose, brought a greater insight into what made each of them tick; a greater appreciation for the unique roles they had assigned themselves in the organization.
What is your personal mission?
I'd like to invite you to think of an important area of your life right now - perhaps your role as a parent, perhaps your position in your company, perhaps your position in your church or in your community - whatever.
Now, what is your personal mission? What do you stand for? What is meaningful about that? What will you do to give life to your mission?
Please will you do me a favour?
Take this exercise seriously. Think deeply about this. When you're ready, write the answer down in a couple of sentences. Adapt and fine tune it if you need to and when you're done find someone that you can proudly proclaim it to...
...Then see the amazing effect it has!
If you really feel there's no-one you can do that with, then go to the Insights Forum (follow the link at the top of this message) and proclaim it there.
I, for one, would be delighted to hear from you!
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