“Helping others to reach their potential” is not your life’s mission.
Neither is it “to make the world a better place.”
Nor is it to “teach others how to grow and transform their lives.”
Sorry. I know, I might be upsetting you right now.
Just bear with me…
The above statements are descriptions of your potential action and impact. But there not missions.
A mission is a specific calling that comes deep from within:
To decode the human genome.
To master the art of communications.
To define a new genre of personal finance.
To invent a new technology platform.
To create a heart-based approach to marketing.
To change how we value our relationship to nature.
To be the first Jewish astronaut in space.
In other words, a mission is something that is bold, ambitious, and requires a personal stake and investment. It will likely take you a lifetime to achieve (in other worlds, the journey’s often never complete. It just has many unfolding chapters to the story). Of course your higher calling often generates a derivative impact and wide-scale contribution.
As you pursue your mission, you undoubtedly will:
Teach others, make a difference, and transform the world.
But you have to name your real mission, first. Find the bigger story.
That’s something personal, vulnerable, and revealing. Dig deep. It’s in your personal blueprint. Something you’re hard-wired for based on genetics, life experience, and your soul’s destiny. The clues are hiding in plain sight.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman
In my case, I’m obsessed with storytelling. Part of my mission is to decode storytelling. Why? Because for much of life, I felt completely lost in translation. I never really knew where I fit in or belonged. Probably explains why I’ve been a lifelong student of human behavior and communications. You might call it a coping mechanism. I consider it my calling. As an entrepreneur, I discovered early on how everything in business boils down to getting others to believe in your story.
I struggled with several huge unanswered questions: (1) How do I get others see and appreciate the same things I do? (2) What does it take to turn something new and different into cultural acceptance? (3) Why do some world-changing ideas take hold — while so many others get lost in translation? These are core questions that have propelled my journey and brought me to storytelling. It just so happens those questions are at the heart of business, innovation, and large-scale culture change. In other words, my quest is something that many of you equally care about, which is why you read this blog and are a part of our community.
Your mission speaks to something that you are trying to express, resolve, or solve in your own life’s understanding. It’s the underlying theme or story arc that’s shaped your life. For clues, listen to the yearning and desires of your heart. It’s what I think Gandhi meant, when he said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you truly connected to your mission, you can’t help but embody the message. So worry less about “fixing” everyone else’s problems. Realize that the mission you’re on, begins as an inside-out journey.
Here’s three questions for you to chew on:
- What’s the thing you’re most curious about?
- What’s the riddle you’re trying to solve; or the nut you’re trying to crack?
- What are you working on that’s much larger than yourself?
We all need a bigger story. The bigger the story, the more room there exists under the umbrella for others to locate themselves. That’s why you want a mission that’s specific, yet universal enough that others can identify with the same mission, and will want to join you on that journey. It’s your job to speak from your place of knowing; that journey of intimate detail, struggle, and collected wisdom.
As much as I have become a so-called expert in storytelling, this is my own life’s learning (and a continued work in progress). I’m forever reminded of the saying: we teach what we need to learn most. So as a storyteller, I remain the student, and always feel like I could be doing a better job of making our branding, marketing, and communications more storytelling-based. There’s no greater journey then to embody your truth. Especially when you have a big truth to tell.
Never forget the personal nature and vulnerability inherent in your own mission. There’s a part of you that you are still making whole by following your deepest desire. Notice wherever the “cobbler’s children wear no shoes” for your own business. It’s much easier to project your mission externally on those around you — than it is to explore your own place of shadow. Just remember your work is often a stage for your own inner-turmoil. Especially the case when you’re an entrepreneur on a path of freedom and creative expression. Just being aware of this dynamic will make you more successful.
Find your medicine. Name it. Tell its story. Nurture it’s expression. By healing yourself, you will heal the world. That is your only true mission.
What’s your answer to the three questions above?
Tell me more in the comments below. If you like this post, there’s no greater love than to share it with your friends.
Want some serious help telling the story of who you are and what you do? Check out my 7-step storytelling system The New About Me, for quick-turnaround results.