“Life’s journey is really about figuring out how to literally move the clouds away so you can see the sun.” ~Joe Polish
Some people know what it is they want to do in life, what they want to accomplish. They are clear about what is immediately important to them, what drives and energizes them, and where to put their attention and effort. They can tell you in a few concise sentences what is important to them, what they are doing and how they are doing it. I am not so clear.
3 Questions to Identify Your Mission
Aubrey Marcus is the Founder and CEO of Onnit, and among many other things, the creator of the Go for Your Win course. Early on in the course he explains that to know your life purpose, first you need to understand your mission; what you are going to get done while you are on this planet. He believes, this ‘should not be complicated.’ How to find it? He offers 3 simple questions;
- What do you love about the world?
- What is preventing these things from reaching their greatest happiness and fulfillment?
- What is the most important role you could play to help those things you love?
‘Your mission is whatever you answered in #3.’
One reason I recently joined Go for Your Win, was to flush out my latest mission. I adore my work as a coach, and I have specialties that have evolved over a lifetime of work, but there has been a specific mission trying to unfold. Something particular I am supposed to devote myself to. But before I sat down to answer these 3 questions for myself, I wondered if I could apply them to someone else, someone already in full swing living their mission, to see how the questions would work.
I asked Devon Bandison, an international Leadership and High Performance coach, TEDx speaker and author, to answer them. He has written a book that is a perfect example of mission driven work; Fatherhood is Leadership.
In the book, Devon makes it clear how rewarding, imperative and very possible it is for any man to show up powerfully for their child; as a leader, role model and extraordinary father. His writing is practical and profound, vulnerable and fearless, hilarious and heartfelt. His intention is to connect fathers with the joy of fatherhood and gives them the tools they need to do that, to live a life beyond what they have imagined. Those tools, in the form of activities and practices, are outlined in “The Legacy Zone,” after each chapter, they are gold.
Here are Devon’s answers to Aubrey’s 3 questions;
What do you love about the world?
“What I love about the world is how connected we all really are. The beauty and divinity you can see in everyone if we get out of our own way and connect with love. As Gandhi once said “If you can’t find God in the next person you meet, it’s a waste of time looking for God anywhere else. And my obvious; Love is the love of being a father. It’s the most rewarding experience and responsibility that I have in my life. There is nothing that has taught me more about myself, love, acceptance, forgiveness and surrender than being a father. It’s so amazing, powerful and lights me up every day. I could go on for days talking about the joys of being a father.”
Devon loves being a father. It teaches fathers the very best aspects of who they are as responsible, deeply connected and joyful human beings.
What is preventing these things from reaching their greatest happiness and fulfillment?
“Our thinking, and our conditioning around our thinking. Many of us including myself, for many years believed that something outside of us was responsible for our happiness and fulfillment. We lived in “destination addiction” which sounds something like “once I get …blank… then I’ll be … blank…Or waiting for a person or relationship to make us complete. I realized that these undertakings were futile and that happiness and fulfillment is an inside job. The more I began to create that from within, I began to experience my outside world much differently. As a father, this inquiry around my thinking has allowed me to be the creator of my experience rather than a victim of circumstance.”
Devon sees that ‘conditioned thinking’ teaches us the opposite of what we really are; It teaches that happiness and fulfillment are found outside of us and is dependent on ‘others’ and ‘circumstances’, instead of where it really is; within us. All fathers have the innate ability to create their extraordinary experience as a father, by embracing that responsibility.
What is the most important role you could play to help those things you love.
“For me the most important role that I can play in helping the things I love is to show up as my best self for my family and ultimately the world. I’m a big believer that if you want to change the world, it starts in your own home. If I want to bring more love to the world, then it starts with me in my own home. If I want the world to be less judgmental and more accepting it starts with me in my own home. Fatherhood is the ultimate teacher-student relationship and I always love the fact that I’m often the student. “
Devon knows that ‘being the change’ starts at home and starts with himself. He does the work to continuously show up with love, acceptance and non-judgement, always leading with his best self. He embraces this as an ongoing, lifelong teaching and learning process.
“Ask yourself: What is the best I can do? Then go and do that!” Devon Bandison
How a Mission Statement Guides
“A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.” Stephen Covey
When you have a well delineated, overarching aim, it both affirms and empowers your intent every time you repeat it. It is a declaration grounded in the present. You know right now, what you are intending to get done and how you will do it. It directs and inspires your daily choices, decisions, actions and behaviors.
The statement itself is short and succinct (1 or 2 sentences), and easy to remember. That way it can roll off your tongue as an ever present, active, value driven statement describing how you live your life every day. This is how a strong mission statement guides.
“Without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realize it was leaning against the wrong building!” Dave Ramsey
What Your Mission Statement Does for You AND Others
- It becomes your guiding light, your north star, your road map that keeps you going in the right direction.
- It is the trusted and confident voice in your ear when resistance is beckoning you in the other.
- It allows you to powerfully communicate to the world what you are about.
- It allows you to communicate to those that feel drawn to help you.
- Once you create a mission statement, you live with focus and commitment.
- Conversely, someone else’s mission statement helps you see where you can help them.
- You lead. You inspire people by ‘going first’, believing in your ability and the power of a cause, and that if you can do it, they can too.
“Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs” ~Stephen Covey
How to find the clarity that leads to discovering a personal mission?
Start by clearing space for it. Clarity doesn’t typically happen the first time you sit down to find it, although it can. It’s possible to find it by simply staying in motion, listening to what is showing up in your life, paying attention to the lessons and taking what appears as the next right action. That has primarily been my way, but it now feels too slow, it’s no longer working for me.
Access to your clarity requires taking full responsibility for where you are in life, so you can take full responsibility for where you want to go. You will need to get out of your own way, by taking control of the following limiting ways of being:
Own where you ‘practice’ resistance, where you are tolerating ambivalence, or camping out in your comfort zone.
Realize where you yourself are creating obstacles, chaos or clutter, providing self-imposed blocks to clarity.
Find where you are ‘trying to do everything yourself’ and ask for help; most of us don’t see what’s right in front of us about ourselves. Ask for help, get feedback, get in ‘receiving’ mode.
Look at where you don’t seem to be applying your previous lessons, where you are stuck in repeating patterns.
Honestly critique your use of goals (or lack thereof); they work if well written, clear, specific, and have accountability built in. They work with consistent reviewing, visualizing and evaluating. Yours don’t have those elements? Back to the drawing board with you!
Answering Aubrey’s 3 Questions; My Personal Mission Statement
I put in the time to clear my own blocks, and dug into these questions;
What do I love about the world?
I love that I see all human beings are creators and intimately a part of the life force that beats our hearts and breaths our lungs.
I love when people find their greatness, when they have seen something and move to create it.
I love that people get inspired help each other. People see each other, they connect, they communicate, collaborate, and create something together, something greater than what any single person could do alone.
What is preventing these things from reaching their greatest happiness and fulfillment?
So much of what gets in the way of our fulfillment as creators is the insidious presence of blocks. They come in all shapes and sizes. We don’t see how culture and biology can keep us in separation, distracted and unaware. We don’t realize we’re encouraged to believe in someone else’s idea of what’s right or wrong, or even possible. Most don’t see through lifelong conditioning, limiting beliefs, and the chronic influence of a negative environment. We get sucked in to the lack mentality. We can be prisoners of the many faces of fear; comparison, judgement, rejection, failure, and the crippling ‘what others think.’
What is the most important role I could play to help those things I love?
Become great at finding my own clarity, to go first. No settling for anything less than the deepest clarity possible, any given time. If I master clarity myself, then in my profession I can solve that problem for others. After that, it’s an open field.
There it is, to be refined.
During this exercise, I realized that ‘not enough’ clarity and looking for ‘what I’m not seeing’ has been a theme throughout my entire life. Especially so over the last year, as I’ve been working to accelerate shifts in my life. I just never saw clarity as a fundamental I should focus on, obviously! As Marcus Aurelius said in so many words, this obstacle is precisely the way for me, this obstacle is ‘the gift that will keep on giving’. There will always be greater opportunities for clarity, I’ll be at a new place in my consciousness and the next piece of the puzzle will beckon me. Only now I’ll be better at it, and as Byron Katie teaches in The Work, ‘Not only am I willing to live this, I look forward to it.’