“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time being; but whichever it is, he should steadily focus his thought forces upon the object which he has set before him. He should make this purpose his supreme duty, and should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings. This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.“- James Allen
There simply is no mission without purpose. Without purpose, you are left with a series of misguided, unfocused, lonely, irrational sets of behavior and action that ultimately leads toward nothingness or worse yet oblivion! This may be familiar to some of you as we all have a friend or two that is consistently hopping from job to job or from one deep meaningful relationship to yet another torrid love affair. We all know people that can’t make tough decisions even if their very life depended on it. Don’t get me started on our general sense of societal malaise and obvious lack of creativity. It seems that today’s fast paced high powered world is simply marred with mediocrity; substandard ideas, from mindless people seeking marginal results. If this describes you or someone close to you, don’t get upset, I’m just the messenger! You see without a clear purpose, all of us fall victim to this kind of thinking and we all participate in our own destruction by bringing forward and institutionalizing ideas that put downward pressure on our very society. In my humble opinion, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you are better off doing nothing. I’d rather have you in my way, than on the way to nothing. Besides, there’s a better than average chances that you are not out there by yourself. There’s probably someone that you work with or care about blindly following you off the cliff!
So if you haven’t already, stop right now and take some wisdom from my grandmother “you’d better get your act together boy!” If you have the ability and the interest to read this, there is no time left for you. You must begin to define your purpose now. Let’s begin this discussion on a high note. I was reading my friend Adrea’s blog (who by the way is a brilliant writer) today and I was reminded of how important mind mapping is to the creative process. It connects your ideas and allows them to be free flowing, while linear at the same time. It helps you to remember and grow mentally. After developing my own mind map about “purpose” I came up with some brilliant ideas to share with you. Purpose, in my mind, provides three solid characteristics to your mission; they are passion, reason, and clarity. Each of these notions must be explored in depth if you want your mission or vision statements to matter even to you.
Clarity for the Big and the Small
A sense of clarity and focus helps to provide direction and depth. You should be able to see where your organization is going at all times. When “family” is concerned, nothing beats an absolute well-defined set of values or principles to help shape and define tradition and connectedness. We all need guidance, so let your purpose do the hard work for you. The only thing you should worry about is execution. Once you set out on a worthy course that you are sure is right, you can fly along at lightning speed towards your goal with unwavering resolve and committed action. Can you imagine how good it would feel to simply know where your company was going or how it was growing? It would be impossible to “widgetize” you. You’d never be a drone again. You’ll be far too busy working your plan of relevant ideas and making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
You’ll understand the big picture! From a birds eye position, you’ll be able to see the road ahead and accurately assess how much energy and precious resources will be needed for your journey. Knowing the distance you’ll travel can help tremendously in planning a strategy to reach your destination. You’ll what to bring with you only the needed tools and discard all unnecessary baggage. Yes, we all have baggage but some of us have luggage that is just too big to fit on the plane. If it doesn’t fit in your cargo hold of life, well then the choice is clear, get rid of it! Don’t even try to bring along your emotional baggage from previous relationships or business connections. You’d be better off with less clutter anyway. Who said that you have to read and respond to every e-mail, phone call or text message right away? A part of our collective problem is the way we define urgencies and how we let them derail our process. Imagine your self-flying high above your goal. Jot down all the ideas that come to your head in terms of required resources. It will make getting ready much easier.
It’s also critically important to take the worm’s eye view of the path you’ve chosen. Here is where you’ll see the day to day obstacles that require constant diligence to negotiate. Without this type of serious resolve, you’ll simply quit on yourself or start making excuses of why this or that is too hard. Quit being such a ninny. You’ve got too much work to do. Getting a detailed perspective helps you feel comfortable with the route. You’ll need to know the features of the terrain. How thick is the brush? How dangerous are those big holes in the mud? Yes, I want you to get caught up in the minutia for a second. It’s important to mention that you can’t stay here. We don’t want you to develop a fatal case of analysis paralysis.
You’ll have to be able to skillfully break your tasks down to the cellular level to truly understand how to make things happen. You’ll need to know exactly what tactical and technical skills to employ. Before you can build a house, you’ll have to understand a thing or two about a hammer and nails. There’s no need to wonder what’s up ahead or how long it will take you. You’ll have all of that figured out in short order. What daily actions do you need to engage in to move you and your team forward with a consistency that helps create team unity and an infectious pride? What do you have to do to sustain your momentum all the way? How do you have to think and speak?
Supreme Reason Trumps Ignorance Everyday
If you want others to see you as competent at what you do, you must get them to acknowledge the sheer brilliance of your thinking along the way. There needs to be a shared sense of reason as you move toward your objectives. Not only that, everyone must agree on these reasons or your project will get sabotaged maybe even taken over by a competitor or another department. No one gets points in the win column when they bring dissention and mutiny to everything. Instead, take the time to lay out your plans in simple sequential almost mathematical order so that they make sense to engineers and accountants alike. The analytical types in your organization will be excited to witness your logical well thought out presentation. They’ll respect the radiance of your ideas and the methods by which you choose to express them. Everyone will see the razor sharp clarity of your keen intellect and deliver tremendous respect to you and your team.
Your rational process, to be fully understood and accepted needs to display and bear witness to the truth of your character. Don’t get this confused with charisma. “Character” is something that you can back up with fact! It’s your proven moral compass that helps you and your family to balance the ideas of right and wrong, fairness and injustice. It keeps you almost spiritually aligned with the right side of destiny and away from the tragic consequences of invisibility. This is the litmus test of the wise and the strong. You won’t fail this test if you keep the right ideas in front of you.
Ask the questions that help you get a grip your organizational efficiencies. What is going to make it easier for you to get to your goal? Can you automate any of your processes? What proven experience do you have on your team and how relevant is that experience today? Will you need to provide new innovation or finally just do it the right way (you know that stuff they put in manuals and books for you)? Can you keep your group aligned with the motives of the greater organization or does something have to change?
Remember the Attraction of Fiery Passion
Nothing generates more heat, more excitement than passion. Passion is in one sense tremendously motivating and attractive in another. If there is no heart energy to your mission it’s just like your body would be without a heart; it’s dead, a virtual “fait accompli”. You need to feel fueled and invigorated by your mission all of the time. If the need to get moving doesn’t wake you up every morning you’re probably not really on “mission.” My wife would say “you’re out of scope” (not the mouthwash you dope). I know that I get a yearning to coach people everyday. It’s almost as if my very life depended on helping someone achieve their goals. When I’m not on “task” I feel like I’m not complete; like I’m cheating somehow. Actually I am cheating; I’m cheating on myself and what’s even worse, I can’t divorce myself! I wouldn’t sign the papers anyway.
Admittedly, it’s tough to find this kind of passion but I think you can clearly see why it’s worth a try. So before you start to give up on your talents or attempt to subvert your fate, why not try to get in touch with yourself again. Just humor me and give it one more shot. Try to see yourself as an ongoing project, not a finished product. You are on your way towards become a uniquely special somebody. Don’t you deserve to give your self some acknowledgment and a little attention? My vote is yes!
Try this exercise on. Start with a blank piece of paper and write your name in the middle. Now think of the first word that describes you and write that next to your name. Picture that word, as you think of a word or two that describes the second word, do that again and again until you’ve exhausted all possibilities. Then go back to the center and think of another word that describes you and repeat the process over and over until you can’t go on. Keep going until you are sure that you’ve stretched your knowledge of self to the brink. This exercise should be quick but really powerful.
Congratulations, you’ve just mind mapped yourself. You should be able to take your map and start to see groupings and patterns of thought that define you. You should see perspectives that you’ve never shared, not even with yourself. At the very least you’ll have a lot of fun!
You should have enough ammunition at this time to begin to see why those that are attracted to you are. In any case, show your mind map to those that are close to you. Engage them in a discussion about you guessed it, you. See if they have some insight to add. Give them permission to be honest and accept the feedback positively. The best executive coach that I know is Marshal Goldsmith. He says that all you can say in times like this is “thank you”. Please do not attempt to rationalize or explain anything just say it, “thank you”.
The graceful lines of your personal mind-map and it’s accompanied pictures should fuel your desire. It should bring you in-touch with your own inner beauty and help you become even more attracted to your highest ideas and convictions. Maybe you’ll even dig up that happy well adjusted child that you left behind on the playground many years ago. I’d like to meet that kid, wouldn’t you?
At this point, we are half way through the vision quest blog series. Over the next few weeks we’ll be exploring the deeper meaning of goals and share some exciting techniques about how to turn them into real actionable tasks for personal and organizational productivity. Until then,
-Welcome to the revolution