'My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.' ~ Maya AngelouClick To Tweet
When you wake up in the morning and think about going to work… what feelings come up for you?
- Are you excited?
- Are you anxious?
- Are you bored?
- Are you content?
- Are you stressed?
According to Gallup, only 13% of employees, globally, are engaged in their work. This is staggering. Engagement isn’t some impossible feat where only a select few are capable of it. This is something that should be available to everyone. And I know that not all employers are fabulous at creating engaging workplaces, but some responsibility rests with us too – as employees we make choices about where we work, and in what line of work. We choose how we ‘show up’ and have a lot more influence over our own engagement than we might think.
And if you’re a manager, chances are you have had it drummed into you that you are responsible for lifting engagement in your team… but how engaged are you?
So my question to you is this: What is your Mission?
Mission-driven work is important because it enables us to feel like we are growing personally and contributing to society or the world. These things combined lead to fulfilment.
Now I hear you say that not everyone can work for Apple or Google or Tesla or Amnesty International… I get that.
But I’m not saying you have to work for a mission-driven organisation to be fulfilled.
I’m also not saying that you have to make your job your mission… life is too rich and full for that to be the extent of your mission.
What I’m saying is that you need to have a mission. And you need to find meaningful work that aligns with your mission, so that you feel that your work day is pulling you in the right direction.
How do I find my mission?
'A noble purpose inspires sacrifice, stimulates innovation and encourages perseverance.' ~ Gary HamelClick To Tweet
Be open to the idea that you have one…
In my experience, everyone has a mission. But in many cases the story that society tells us about how to get ahead – go to university, get good grades, choose a career, work hard, get promoted – drowns it out. Kids don’t start out wanting to be internal auditors or quantity surveyors! They start out wanting to be knights and princesses, or Robin Hood, or fire-fighters.
As our senses get numbed by the routine day-to-day rituals that ensure we collect a pay-check and support our families, we become immune to the voice within that could help us align ourselves with our life’s purpose.
So get quiet with your thoughts and LISTEN. Be aware that you might experience discomfort as you work through this process, because the idea that there is something that you are called to will probably mean a LOT of change. Most people don’t like change much. Don’t worry – having the thought doesn’t require change. But what comes next will.
Visualise your own funeral…
OK, I know this sounds a bit extreme, but it is effective. You are going to die one day. So just fast forward a bit and imagine it has just happened.
Imagine yourself many years out in the future. You’ve lived a long and healthy life. Picture the inside of the building where the service is taking place. Then focus on the faces of the people attending. Who is there? Who isn’t there? Picture it the way you would like it to be. Standing room only, and packed with people you love. People you’ve worked with. Friends, family, colleagues.
Someone stands up and moves to the front of the gathering to give a eulogy. Who is it? …And what do they say? And then someone else gets up to deliver a eulogy… What do they remember about you? What contribution did you make to other people’s lives. What useful work did you do? What jokes do they tell? In what way is the world different as a result of you having been in it?
Focusing on what impact you want to have in the world is a whole lot easier if you fast-forward to the end. “Future you” is easier to picture as accomplished, ambitious and fearless.
When you’ve finished, you’ll need to sit with it for a few minutes. It’s uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be.
- What aspects of your life are in alignment with the person who’s funeral you attended?
- In what ways is your current life out of alignment with that life?
- What needs your attention?
- What are you prepared to do about it?
Now in reality, all of these images and words came from inside your own brain. What your friends and family said about you is what you want them to say about you. Those things? That’s your mission.
Write it down while it’s fresh. As much detail as you can remember.
I want you to live with this insight for a few days.
Then I’ll help you figure out what to do next…
The First Time Manager’s Crash Course Part One and Part Two are out now on Skillshare.
These are the first two in a series of three programmes aimed at first time managers, helping them bridge the gap between the technical skills and processes that their employer (hopefully) is providing, and the leadership skills and insights they need to develop to be effective managers.
This course is for anyone who aspires to manage other people – whether in a formal management or team leadership role, or as a project manager without ongoing human resource management responsibility.
More importantly, it’s for those who have just been – or are about to be – appointed to one of these roles and are a bit anxious about what is involved.
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