I Have No Mission and I’m Proud (how the pressure to passionate is a passion killer)
“So, tell me about your mission? What’s your burning why?”
Not only do I hate these questions, but I also find them to be one of the biggest impediments to growth and contribution.
If you can’t relate, then lucky you and this probably isn’t for you. But please read on anyway so that you can check yourself the next time you drill someone on articulating their vision or purpose. For certain people, the pressure to “know” these things is a guaranteed ticket to self-sabotage.
When you don’t have a crystal clear view but think that you should, it’s debilitating.
It is the perfect opportunity for the ego to swoop in and save you. Remember, the ego was created to protect the child version of you. It helped you get through the early years when you didn’t feel understood, heard, loved, or accepted by your parents, caregivers, teachers, etc.
The ego always shows up for work, and its job is still to protect that child. The problem is that it’s poorly suited to help the adult you, the one who is trying to define a mission. Instead, it’s protecting some kid inside you that’s worried about rejection and terrified of being judged. The trusty, always on time ego steps in to ascertain that you won’t be put in a vulnerable position in the first place.
So even if we have something that excites us that we want to do, all this pressure to have a “WHY” is like putting the breaks and the gas on simultaneously. It’s a recipe for burnout.
And man is the ego tricky.
It might tell you you’re not ready, take another class. You’re not passionate enough about this to abandon your kids with a nanny, find a cause in Africa. Or perhaps it shows up more subtly- procrastination, boredom, avoidance. If you are an achiever, the ego might suggest you go for a run. Or just start with a little more research… two hours (and 42 windows open on your browser later), ego has succeeded. Forget the run, take a nap.
Or in my case, eat a cookie to give you energy (glutton free of course), and then get back to work. Of course, the adult me knows I have been doing this since my days at Vanderbilt, but the child in me eats that cookie every time resulting in no more energy and possibly a stomach ache.
In an interview this morning, someone asked me what my mission is.
I took a breath and geared myself up to articulate something deep, insightful and well-rehearsed, but instead blurted out— right this second it’s to make it such that people don’t need one to forge ahead in life with passion, drive, and love.
That people can grow and contribute before convincing everyone that they’re perfect or have a best selling book (or any book).
We all have something to give. We all have ways to contribute, right now. Just as we are…. before the degree, the blog; without a social media following, book, or podcast.
Bottom line- people are suffering. People are working too hard and not enough of us are enjoying the process. We can all help each other before we are experts, influencers, or on a podcast. But all too often, the ego is the gatekeeper that keeps you playing small and safe. The key is to get to know your ego and understand its message. Only then can you greet it at the door rather than letting it dictate your existence.
After my ramble, the interviewer gave me the subtle head tilt dog look, and asked “so to clarify, your mission is what exactly?”
Ok… So fine… “My mission is to contribute, help, and support anyone that I can. No, I don’t know exactly how, and no, I don’t have a mission statement that doesn’t fluctuate weekly, but I’m sick of waiting. I’m here to help.
I don’t expect to be on that podcast anytime soon. Unless of course, I had a trillion followers, and therefore pre-approved, and then I’d be revered for my outrageousness.
Oh well, keep on keeping on.
I believe in the power of education, technology, personal growth and lifelong learning.
But I know from experience that these are not enough. Information without understanding is confuses and misleads. Education and talent without application debilitates growth. Awareness without transformation only stifles action.
- SO LET'S TAKE SOME ACTION -
My goal is to get the wind at your back so that you can live authentically, aligned, and create by mindful design:
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