I was doing an interview the other day for an article that I am working on and was struck by a dialogue that we had about the idea of mission.
As a college student, as part of the training for a summer program I worked with, I wrote my first mission statement. The exercise was one of those great challenges, and it was helpful in the following months to have a mission statement to guide me. That mission statement is in a box in my attic somewhere (if I would just clean out my attic, I would know exactly where it is) but it served me well. So well that as a high school teacher and a college administrator, I often led my students in a similar mission statement writing exercise because I wanted them to have that self-awareness guiding them.
In my mid-twenties, I was at a conference for college administrators when we were asked to come up with one word that described our mission and then follow that with a sentence that explained it.
Voice. I said. It was my first succinct explanation of what I was finding to be my vocation.
What was my point in life? To help people get at their own voices so that they could express themselves and act from an authentic place. Sometimes I could instigate that by using my own voice. Often times, I accomplished my mission by listening, questioning, suggesting.
Ultimately, the formal mission statement I wrote when I became self-employed in 2005 was that I wanted to encourage individuals to explore, integrate, and solidify their voices through well-developed workshops and speeches, well-researched articles that offer information, and thoughtful essays that provide truth, generate confidence, inspire hope, and motivate action.
Alright, so all that to say that during my recent interview, my interviewee talked about how important is for everyone to know what his or her mission in life is. Once you know your mission, you can find your way. I was reminded of that conference workshop where we had to come up with our word.
Voice still feels like the right word to me, but I can’t help but wonder if passion might be a contender as well. And is there another word that I should be considering instead?
Stop right now and think about it for yourself. When you think about what word best describes what you are about, what your mission is in life, what comes to mind?
Hope you’ll share it here!