One of my current favorite business-y type books is The Power of Story by Loehr. So many useful and accurate tidbits in there, but one of my favorites was his conceptualization of purpose. Loehr says we can't really live our best life unless we discover and articulate our real purpose, or Ultimate Mission, as he calls it. He gives this example of an unnamed famous tennis player (FTP) who's gotten caught up in winning and the resultant material goods – fancy cars and shiny medals. After some pushing and prodding from Loehr about what FTP's Ultimate Mission really is, FTP arrives back at Loehr's office with her proclamation: She wants to be sunshine.
From that realization forward, FTP is focused on being sunshine in every interaction. She smiles more, she brings levity and happiness to her interactions. She wants to win, but how she wins and loses is more important. As you might suspect, she wins more as a result. Loehr argues that she wins more because she has a powerful story that inspires her actions. She is totally engaged in her mission and that engagement brings extraordinary performance. Yes – it's a bit of a sing-songy example, but it gets the point across. Know your mission, get focused on that single thing and let that total engagement bring you to a greater level of brilliance (or performance.)
My Ultimate Mission is Courage and Compassion. I like this mission for everything – but I particularly like the way these words work with communication specifically.
While at first glance it might seem this mission is about how I treat others – and I do intend it that way – the fact is, it plays out most often with myself. It's about being courageous enough to be honest with myself about my interactions. It's about recognizing when I have argued a point I no longer believe in, just to win. It's about apologizing when I said something hurtful because I was too enamored with my own epiphany to notice that this was not the right time to share this reflection with a wounded soul. It's about being compassionate with myself when I fail to meet my own expectations. It's about being impeccable with my word (to use the words of Don Miguel Ruiz), first and foremost to myself – and with others. And to save this post from sounding like a horrible self-help book – it's also about putting my ass on the line. (Self-help books rarely use the word ass.) It's about sharing my frailties, asking for feedback and forgiveness. It's also about articulating my brilliance and risking that others will argue against my own impressions of myself.
While I tend to be direct in communication, it's usually in my questions to others. I tend to share little about myself. I want to see what happens if I am significantly more self-expressed. I'm pretty nervous because, well, I want people to think I'm cool. Or at least I want to think people think I'm cool. As a result of my new courageous communication, I'm pretty sure I'll learn that at least some people won't think I'm cool. That part sucks.
It's a good thing I've got the compassion thing to fall back on. I'll be needing that as I soothe myself from any negative feedback. This'll be good for me because frankly, I haven't been compassionate enough with myself or others up to now.