Unless you want to constantly second-guess yourself or make decisions on the fly with no idea if they are right or wrong for you, it’s a good idea to take the time to figure out what you believe in and what you stand for. Call it your personal mission statement, your platform of belief – whatever – knowing what you value and being incredibly intentional about WHO YOU ARE brings you back on track when you get sidetracked. And, friends, when you’re in the midst of a battle, it’s a tough time to try to figure out your life strategy.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you a victim without your permission.” The problem is, without defining ourselves ahead of time, it’s very easy for an event, a point in time, a “fork in the road,” if you will, to characterize our lives as “before” and “after.” It’s incredibly easy to lose perspective and become hyper-focused on what has happened and miss the lesson we could learn from it. And if we fail to learn, what’s the point?
Our cars come with this fabulous thing called a GPS – you tell it where you want to end up and it maps out a route for you! Or …you could just wing it, figuring somehow things will work out in your favor and you will end up in a good place. That’s a great way to end up hopelessly lost, out of money, with no one to come to your rescue! A good directional system seems like a much better idea!
Imagine I’m holding an egg in my hand. Just by looking at it, you can’t tell if it is hard-boiled or raw and, unless it’s coming right at you, you probably don’t care! But if this egg represents my value system – that’s a different thing. Some values can be compromised with minimal impact – they aren’t high on the “life or death” spectrum. They may be somewhat important, but they aren’t really going to change the direction of my life one way or another so it’s ok if I’m a little careless with my egg.
But without giving it some thought, without having those values questioned and tried, how would you know? If you hadn’t at least contemplated the impact of losing something, how can you know how much it would matter? Knowing your values – being intentional about who you are and what you stand for – brings us back on track. When you’re in the midst of the fight it’s your North Star, your benchmark to look back to. If you have never taken the time to draft your own personal Mission Statement or Platform of Belief, I encourage you to do so. Find a quiet place with a nice cup of coffee or glass of wine and get in touch with what matters the most to you. I wrote mine back in 1995 and it remains framed on my desktop to this day.
A.J. Muste (1885-1967) was one of the leading non-violent social activists of his time, eventually committing his time and energies to war resistance and civil rights. During the Vietnam War he conducted a solitary, nightly candlelight vigil in front of the White House. One night, a reporter asked him with derision, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night with a candle?” Mr. Muste replied, “Oh, I don’t do it to change the country, I do it so the country won’t change me.”
Friends, that’s what having your actions and decisions in alignment with your value system – your internal GPS – looks like. When difficulties come, you already know who you are and what you stand for.
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Pattie Vargas, Principal and Founder, The Vargas Group, is a frequent conference speaker on the topics of change management, organizational development, personal resilience and issues facing women in the workplace. As a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker, she provides seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching to move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.
Proprietary Communication 2017