Your mission as an anchor in a rapidly changing world

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Aug 9 2022

Complexity

Your mission as an anchor in a rapidly changing world

What moves you? What drives you? What do you have to do in the world? In a turbulent, complex setting, a personal mission can provide direction. A criterion of choice: what do I choose, how do I act, how do I communicate? The focus in this blog is on the individual level, but all of it applies equally to an organization, of course.

A beautiful metaphor in this context is that of the Pole Star. This star hardly moves at all, as seen from the earth, because it lies in line with the earth’s axis. While other stars shift throughout the night as we look at the sky, the North Star is the constant. This is why it was traditionally used in navigation. Like the North Star, your mission provides a clear direction in a world that is moving.

Your mission constantly reminds you of what is true for you and helps you see what doesn’t belong on your path. When you start your workday with your mission in mind you are a lot more effective. It gives you something to hold on to. And if you can no longer see the forest for the trees, then it helps to maintain focus. I help people and organizations to connect with their potential. And when I am at a loss, I clear my agenda and only put back those things that contribute to it.

Without such a clear criterion, you babble along with the flow. Then others decide the direction for you. Nelson Mandela’s mission was to “liberate people from the constraints of poverty, suffering, gender and other forms of discrimination”. By directing all his choices toward that mission, even when he was imprisoned for years, he was able to make a huge impact. So a mission is also a first step to realizing dreams.

How do you determine your mission? Often people choose a mission from others without realizing it. Their parents, for example. But it is much more satisfying if you really know what drives you from within and if you can act accordingly. Knowing what warms your heart and soul gives you meaning. It makes you more authentic. So how do you unravel your mission? Well that often requires some reflection. It may even be a process that is never finished. But let’s take a first step anyway. Now here, on the spot.

Look at the three questions below. Reflect on them for yourself; preferably write down what they evoke in you. It is not higher mathematics, especially because the question is practically the same three times! Namely: ‘Why are you here?’ Then you peel away even more layers: with each question you come closer to the core.

  • Why are you here? Now today in the place where you are sitting doing what you are doing now? Answer at the most practical level.
  • Why are you here? Dive deeper below the waterline. Why not somewhere else? What brings you here?
  • Why are you here? What is so important to you that you are sitting here right now?

Now look at your answers from a distance. What surprised you? What have you discovered? Talk it through with someone close to you. Examine together what you are beginning to discover about what you have to do in your life and work. The clearer your mission becomes, the easier it is to navigate in unruly circumstances. Because that personal mission as an anchor no one will take away from you. In the next blog I will give you another navigation tool. Read along!

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