Discovering Your Mission in Life
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Please find a place to read this blog where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Empty your mind now except what you are about to read.
“[Imagine] you are going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorry of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there. As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life. As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended – children brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service. Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life?…What character would you like them se to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?”
Before you read further, I would like to invite you to visualize yourself and take a few minutes to jot down your impressions.
This excerpt from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People shows the importance of beginning with the end in mind. As you engaged yourself in this visualization exercise you touched for a moment on some of your deep, fundamental values. This picture of the end will serve as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. By keeping this end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes to a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole. So many people often get caught with the “activity trap” where they invest all their energy and resources into working harder and climbing the corporate ladder of success only to discover they are climbing against the wrong wall. People strive for achievements and victories that are empty and devoid of meaning.
When we ensure that we have a coherent worldview and picture of the future we are able to manage ourselves each day to what really matters most. Covey says “if the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.”
So, in order to begin with the end in mind, it is important to unearth some of your underlying, fundamental value system. This can’t be done overnight. I hope to provide an intentional approach to help you increase your self-awareness by realigning your paradigms to bring them in harmony with correct principles.
Victor Hugo once said that there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has finally come, you may call it a credo, a philosophy, you may call it a purpose statement it’s not as important as to what you call it, no it’s how you define your definition. That mission and vision statement is more powerful more significant, more influential, than the baggage of the past, or even the accumulated noise of the present.
Now, review some of the key impressions and words that you wrote down earlier on in the visualization exercise. Now, let me guide you in formulating this into a personal mission statement. An effective technique in discovering your mission is to first identify your roles and goals. Covey says “we have each number of different roles in our lives – different areas or capacities in which we have responsibility. I may, for example, have a role as an individual, a husband, a father, a teacher, a church member, and a businessman. And each of these roles is important. One of the major problems that arise when people work to become more effective in life is that they don’t think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance, the natural ecology necessary to effective living. They may get consumed by work and neglect personal health. In the name of professional success, they may neglect the most relationships in their lives. You may find that your mission statement will be much more balanced, much easier to work with, if you break it down into the specific roles areas of your life and the goals you want to accomplish in each area. Look at your professional role. You might be a salesperson, or a manager, or a product developer. What are you about in that area? What are the values that should guide you? Think of your personal roles – husband, wife, father, mother, neighbor and friend. What are you about in those roles? What’s important to you?”
Writing your mission in terms of the important roles in your life gives you balance and harmony. It keeps each role clearly before you. You can review your roles frequently to make sure that you don’t get totally absorbed by one role to the exclusion of others that are equally or even more important in your life.
Below, you’ll see an example of my personal mission statement. I would encourage you take some time alone as we approach the end of 2011 to seriously think about what success means to you based on creating your core values.
My mission in life is to glorify God through serving, equipping, and transforming people and organizations into Christ-centered, world-changing mind molders of our society.
To fulfill this I will:
I put Christ at the centerpiece: I strive to apply the Christian principles in all my endeavors and ensure all major decisions are discerned through my deeply held core values, mission, and vision.
I continuously learn and grow: I devote my time, talents, and resources to transform organizations and cultivate untapped potential within people.
I generate value and service: What I do creates extraordinary value and service for people and organizations in building “vanguard companies.”
I inspire: Through actions and words, I epitomize the Christian businessman who openly practices the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
These roles take priority in achieving my mission:
Son/ Brother – I provide support to my family in every facet by being there.
Boyfriend – I cultivate a long-term relationship with my girlfriend through cultivation of character and practicing of holy life
Christian – I nurture the virtues of the Christian, manifest it in action, and spread the good news.
Change agent – I am a catalyst for developing high performance culture, team, and enterprise.
Leader – I serve the needs of others through inspiring others and mentorship.
Question: What is your mission statement?