Months ago, when Greg DeKoenigsberg and I were still co-workers at Red Hat, I was running around frantically trying to do everything, not getting enough sleep or rest, losing track of what I should be focusing on because I was in full-out run-at-panic mode. I was a young and energetic high-pass filter, and had gotten away with that for years because I was so young and energetic that I was used to being able to hit everything I needed to hit by dint of sheer force of will and massive outpouring of effort. I didn't actually need to focus or decide what to focus on. But this strategy was starting to break down.
Greg stopped me and explained the difference between the urgent - what I was responding to as aforementioned young and energetic high-pass filter - and the important, which... I had an occasional vague and shifting idea of, but didn't really think about. Then he told me to read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Now, I actually enjoy books like that. They make me think. But sometimes I feel as if I ought to dismiss them as silly, hand-wavy stuff, mostly because they can be uncomfortable. I'm reading through it now, and actually working through it slowly (as opposed to my usual "entire book! one sitting! go!" info-digest-mode) and one of the things it asks you to do is write a mission statement. I felt really silly. Then I realized that I felt silly because it was uncomfortable, and sat down and actually did it. Awkwardly. Possibly not too well. But I did do it - had it in the back of my head for the past month or so, thought about it occasionally, tried to be quiet and listen - and today I sat down and wrote things out for the first time. It's not perfect, but it's a decent first capture, and now that it's out there, I'll be able to tune it as I go along and learn to listen better.
Anyway. Here's my personal mission statement, first draft.
I am an interdependent being. I love and care for my family first and
foremost, and my friends, and I allow them to love and care for me. I
acknowledge and believe that I am a wonderful and worthwhile being, and I
trust that others will see that because of the way I choose to live my
life. I trust that those who love me will always be there to catch me. I
am self-reliant, but I am not alone.
I never betray a trust that has been placed in me.
I live in the present. I live with joy and share that joy with those
I dream wildly and freely, and pursue the dreams I have. I seek to
empower and and assist others in reaching their dreams along the way as I
pursue my own. I prepare myself at all times so that I may be ready to
take opportunities to realize my dreams, and I am awake and aware of
myself and the world around me so that I may recognize those
opportunities when I am blessed with them.
I am thankful and humbled by the graces that have come into my life.
I am a steward of my talents and my resources. I will make sure I
have the physical, financial, mental, emotional, and spiritual means to
care for myself and others. I actively seek opportunities to share what I
have and what I know.
I live with mindfulness and intent.
I strive to clearly communicate my thoughts, feelings, actions, and
goals to others. I default to open, even when nobody else is watching.
I am a learner and a teacher. I lead by teaching, and I teach by
example. The most important thing for me to model to my students is how
to live a good life, rich and full of learning and of love.
I run fast and hard and joyfully, and I stop and breathe when I or
someone I am running with needs it. I do not leave anyone behind.
I take time to reflect and to discern in stillness what it is that I
must do before I do it. I continuously seek and recalibrate against that
which I am called by God to be. I pay attention to the details of the
things that are important. I do not get distracted by the trivial and
I actively invite feedback and thank others for the lessons they are
teaching me, especially the lessons that are hardest for me to learn. I
seek to listen and to understand before I speak.
I face my fears and difficulties and embrace and thank them as
opportunities for learning and growth.
I am fully aware that it is always my choice, at any given moment, to
do what is right. I am grateful for this freedom and the
responsibilities it places upon me.
I allow myself to feel, hope, and love. Even when it is painful, it
is still worth it to be fully alive.
I'm curious whether others have done the same thing, and if so, what yours is, how the process went, and what it has done for you. I'm learning to be a person rather than a hyperactive producer of work deliverables, and I haven't previously articulated the kind of person I want to be, but this is the best I can express it at the moment.