(c) 2014 Kathryn Bingham, Montreal photo with Sketchguru filter
Mission and Purpose
Recently, I’ve been pondering the synchronicity of a set of questions related to “purpose.”
- First, while planning my dissertation proposal, my committee chair and I discussed, the “what do I want to do with this” that helps shape my study.
- This mirror’s the inquiry of a committee member on two other proposal defenses, as she asked each candidate, “what do you want out of this?”
- And, in a webinar side chat with one of the event organizers, I was asked what my central “world view” was—what would I consider the foundational source of communication (blogging, books, etc.).
- Finally, Sue—a Deacon from my mom’s church—enquired, “What is your mission?”
All these questions surfaced as I answered the query regarding my mission, distilling into a mental synthesis: My mission is enabling others to embody their personal and global purpose and execute with passion. Regardless of what I’m doing, this “calling” offers a central anchor for considering how to prioritize my time and choices.
Addressing the challenge
Our world today involves an unceasing push of information, a plethora of pressing needs and tasks, ongoing change in our environment and an array of options for every decision. To navigate the path leading to the most fulfilling future, we have to make choices and take actions today. Knowing who you are in the midst of “now” helps you to navigate a path aligning to your purpose. How does this work in real life? Let me offer an example, and then a couple of ideas to explore.
Beyond the intellectual pursuit, a doctoral journey offers an opportunity for personal learning and growth. For me, the dissertation journey involves balancing an almost relentless focus on the objective (the intellectual side), with an equally compelling requirement to pause and be in the moment—to be open to possibilities and access deeper meaning.
To assure conscious attention to my dissertation intentions, I’ve incorporated a few unconventional sections in my project file. Each component pairs with a “daily practice.” Beyond the standard project management, my map includes:
- Philosophy codifies my desire for the effort to be “something more” than enacting research and allows for the emergence of what’s to come. Daily practice: I’m reading Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future [affiliate] by Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski & Flowers.
- Holism acknowledges the importance of maintaining balance in developing body, mind and spirit. Daily practice: physical workouts, Lumosity sessions and cultivating mindfulness through meditation. For ideas, visit this past post.
- Works in parallel bring visibility to competing demands on my time, creativity and energy (in addition to home and family). For example, in addition to conducting the dissertation research, I’m serving on the planning committee for the 2014 international conference for the International Leadership Association, presenting research in two separate conference sessions and am preparing to teach a leadership class this fall.
This example demonstrates a focus on overall balance within a context of development and multiple commitments—a scenario shared with many. I’ve learned to incorporate self-care and continuously invest in learning so that I’m able and equipped to support others who seek to extend their leadership capacity.
Exercise, Part One
How might you go about creating a map of your own that integrates purpose and priority and aligns with your mission? Two key steps involve identifying and articulating your personal mission and developing a clear picture of how you currently allocate your time and energy. Straightforward exercises enable your effort.
First, list your top strengths. Ask others—trusted friends, colleagues and family—their perceptions of your strengths. Set this list aside. On a clean sheet of paper, identify the top five “important things” in your life; set this aside as well. Craft a daily log for at least a week. Capture your sleep, commute, and household chores in “chunks” of time, but break up components of your workday, time volunteering, and engagement with spouse or family into finer detail. For example, at work, list types of projects, the role played, and specific actions taken. Make no judgments during data collection—just capture the information.
In the next post we’ll walk through an analysis, with questions to probe your thinking. Meanwhile, take a moment to offer your comments at our LEADistics Facebook Community, or share on your favorite social networking platform.