Welcome to Purpose Laboratories

by Andy Wood on March 4, 2015

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Time

Plasma Ball

Hello everybody and welcome to the laboratory.  I hope this is educational or helpful to you, and we’ll go inside in just a minute.  Just a couple of guidelines first, so you can benefit the most from the tour.

First, this is MY lab.  It’s up to you to set up YOUR laboratory however you think best.

Second, it’s a little raw and messy because I just finished a major project redesign.  At least I THINK it’s finished.

One other thing… as your tour guide, my job is to remind you, this is not a museum, but an active living and learning space.  So every once in a while I’ll ask you to stop and apply this to your own life and learning.  Deal?  Okay, let’s go…

The Diagnostic Test

In the previous post I suggested there are times when it may be helpful to go back and review your personal mission or purpose statement.  All five of those signs were nagging at me, so I took the hint.

And here’s your first challenge.  If 10 = “completely accurate” and 0 = “completely inaccurate,” give a 1-10 score for each of these questions:

  1. I have a very busy life.
  2. I have experienced significant changes in the last 12 months.
  3. I’ve been living with a nagging sense of frustration with myself lately.
  4. Lately I’ve been putting off the things I say are most important.
  5. Lately what I’ve had to offer is mediocre at best – at work, in relationships, everywhere.
  6. My busyness doesn’t give me a sense of fulfilled purpose.
  7. I’ve been facing some big challenges in my life recently.
  8. Lately I’ve been living with a nagging sense that I’m just not satisfied.
  9. I have a lot of unfinished business these days, and it’s bothering me.
  10. I’ve found myself getting to a point where I’m too tired or unmotivated to care.

Okay, add ‘em up.  If you scored a 70 or above it’s definitely time for a look under the hood.  50 or more, you may need a tune-up.  If you scored 30 or less, I should be touring YOUR lab.

Reviewing Past Experiments

You are one of two kinds of people – either you have seriously experimented with writing your own personal mission statement in the past or you really haven’t.  I don’t mean flirting with it or reading about somebody else’s. I mean doing the soul work necessary to define who you are uniquely before God and the world.  Whether you have or not, what follows is the process by which I first wrote a personal mission statement, then how I worked through revising it recently.  If you do what I did, you can be as energized as I am right now (and that’s pretty energized!).

Workshop 1

The only reason I was at this time management workshop was that they were giving me free food and a free planner, plus a free seminar to boot.  All paid for by your phone company.  The seminar leaders did a session on building a personal mission statement. I had read a lot about this and had written this long, poetic thing that hardly made a dent in my life.  These guys offered something different, and it was really interesting.  While there are many ways to arrive at mission statements, here’s what they did.

Draw two vertical lines on the page, they said, to make three columns.  In column 1 make a list of the first 10 things that come to mind when you complete this sentence:  I would like to live in a world of…

In the middle column, make a list of the first 10 things that come to mind when you complete this sentence:  Something I have to do that contributes to others is…

Then in the third column, make list of the first 10 things that come to mind when you complete this sentence:  A positive quality that best describes me is…

Okay stop.  Your turn – ESPECIALLY if you have never written a mission statement.  Get the paper and pen and make your three lists.  No peeking ahead.

You peeked, didn’t you?  Sigh…

Here were my three lists – I still have the original lists that are now about 10 years old:

I would like to live in a world of (1) love, (2) personal fulfillment, (3) forgiveness, (4) growth, (5) challenge, (6) accomplishment, (7) simplicity, (8) freedom, (9) security, and (10) health and strength and energy.

Something I have to do that contributes to others is (1) preach/speak, (2) teach, (3) write, (4) counsel, (5) motivate, (6) Give money, (7) Lead worship/sing, (8) play with children, (9) verbally praise and encourage, and (10) [blank].

A positive quality that best describes me is (1) visionary, (2) leader, (3) forgiving, (4) encouraging, (5) euduring, (6) communicator, (7) sensitive, (8) inspiring, (9) people-centered, and (10) intelligent.

Then, they said to look at the list and circle the one that is most true, most compelling, most descriptive of me.  I circled personal fulfillment in the first column, preach/speak in the second, and encouraging in the third.

Your turn.  Now that you have your lists, circle the one that is most true, most compelling, or most descriptive of you.

Next, they provided this fill-in-the blank sentence:  My primary purpose in life is to create a world of ___________, while _______________ and manifesting __________________.  We were to take our three words, in order, and fill it in.  So my “rough draft” was:

My primary purpose in life is to create a world of personal fulfillment while preaching and speaking to others, and while manifesting personal encouragement.

Your turn.  What does yours say?  Don’t worry about how it reads at this point – you’ll have a cleanup step in just a minute.  Just insert your three key words into the sentence.

Later, while they were moving on to other things, I began looking at the statement and what it contained, but also what was missing.  I looked for ways to massage the message so that it rang true for me – especially that second column.  Here is where mind landed:

My primary purpose in life is to create a world of personal fulfillment by communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

Your turn.  Do you need to smooth yours out a bit?  Feel free.  But write it out.

I’ve pretty much rested on that for a decade or so. Didn’t do a lot with it, but have re-taught this exercise to college classes and seminar participants with great results.  I and pretty much I have felt content about where it landed.

Until recently, that is.

Workshop 2

Same time management workshop, same two guys presenting.  This assignment got closer to the gut.  “Write your epitaph,” they said.  Assume you’ve just died and finish the following phrase:  “[Your name] was known for…”

Your turn.  You have fifteen minutes.  Don’t stop until you’re done. Write what comes to your heart as well as your head.  You can clean it up later.

They gave me 15 minutes, and I was shocked to be done in 5.  Here’s what I wrote:

Andy Wood was known for:

  • Making a difference in the lives of others, beginning with his own.
  • A faithful husband, loving father, a man of God, and a man of integrity.
  • A man who was a builder, first of human lives, then of more tangible things.
  • A man who knew how to laugh, especially when others were sad or miserable.
  • A man who knew adversity and overcame it.
  • One who bred loyalty in people.
  • One who loved to create, who understood and fulfilled his life purpose, and who helped others find theirs.
  • And one who remained throughout his life a friend of children.

(Note the last second-to-last phrase.  A recurring theme.)

Now… we should all be on the same page. We have something of a personal mission statement.  Probably isn’t perfect, but we’re not perfectionists, now, are we?

Are we?

In the next post I’ll show you why that OKAY mission statement was still missing something… and why I’m pretty excited about what I’ve learned in the lab.

Why are you here, anyway?

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