Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a very mission-minded person. That is, I’m all about “the mission”, whether it’s the lifelong goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur or just the immediate goal of learning a new song on the guitar.
Growing up, the mission I was given, whether implicitly or explicitly, was fairly straightforward: “Get good grades in school so you can go to college.” Then, the mission became, “Do well in college so you can get a good job.” Easy enough—well, maybe not “easy”, but easy to understand.
For many, after getting that “good job”, the mission becomes, “Get married, settle down, and start a family.” And that’s a good way to go, all things considered!
But for me, after getting my own “good job”, I realized that the “good job” I had wasn’t what I wanted. Nor do I believe it’s what I needed. I can’t say I knew what would be best for me, but I knew in my deepest depths what wasn’t best for me—and this “good job” was not the best.
I knew in my heart when I got recruited and the job offer came that it wasn’t right for me, but I took it anyway. Everything seemed to be perfect—the timing, the opportunity, the company, the location, the vocation. In my mind, I was trying to rationalize that this was God opening all the doors to this great opportunity, that He was delivering this job to me on a silver platter.
But in my heart, I felt it wasn’t.
Perhaps out of pride, perhaps out of a naïve sense of duty or obligation to honor my team and my employer, I stuck it out. Most days were mediocre, some were good, but some were killing me on the inside. At one point, I spiraled downward into what I believe was temporal depression. Thank God it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and without Him and the belief that things would eventually get better, I don’t know that I would have made it through intact.
For the past three years, give or take a couple months, I’ve felt like a man without a mission—probably because I’ve been one. The best ways I know to compare it are to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years, or being stuck in limbo. Sometimes it’s felt like traversing levels of Dante’s Inferno (which, admittedly, I have not read). What made it worse was I haven’t known what else to do, where else to go, what other people would think (they’re too busy thinking about themselves, I know now), how a change would affect my future—put simply, I’ve felt paralyzed.
Last week, I was faced yet again with the decision to continue on my present trajectory (or lack thereof), or to change course. I’ve never been one who can make snap decisions on weighty matters, so it weighed on me all week. Combined with the stress of a demanding-but-lucrative job, I felt great agony, even to the point of physical symptoms that debilitated me.
But, I believe I know what I need to do.
Perhaps the one good thing that’s come out of the past three years is that my struggles have led me to ponder my existence and purpose in life. Earlier this week, I found myself inadvertently writing what I consider a short essay on my mission I mentioned above. I’ve been thinking hard about this for years: If I were to distill my (admittedly unclear) life purpose down, what would it be? I don’t know that I have a definite solution, but I believe I’m close based on my (subjective) experiences, deep research and reflection, and what I’ve learned from life so far.
It’s nothing spectacular, but it is as true as I can make it. I’m sure, like me, it will be changed for the better over time. But insofar as truth is a constant across the ages, so too are my beliefs. And I believe my “mission” is consistent with that truth.
I’m sharing this here, partly because I don’t know of a better way to share it, and partly because I believe it needs to be shared. I hope it provides hope and inspiration to someone, like myself, who feels like they’re adrift at sea.
My mission in life is simple: to leave people and businesses better than I found them.
I believe that you must give before you can receive. I believe that you must be hungry to serve and not desperate to sell. And I believe that you will reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow it.
I believe in the daily pursuit of excellence in all endeavors. I believe, as Teddy Roosevelt did, that it’s better to be fighting in the arena for a worthy cause, “marred with sweat and dust and blood”, either knowing “the triumph of high achievement” or failing “while daring greatly”… than to be “with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”.
I believe it is better to be loyal and truthful than to be unfaithful and dishonest. I believe you must be loyal and truthful to your friends, family, and coworkers—but most importantly, to your own self.
I believe it is better to plan, use wisdom, and count the cost than it is to be spontaneous. But, sometimes, I believe it is better to jump off the cliff and build the plane as you’re falling down.
I believe it is better to focus on the present and let the future worry about itself—while still preparing for when the future comes.
I believe it is better to resist and persist than it is to throw in the towel. But, sometimes, I believe you have to quit in order to win.
I believe that, God willing, one can do anything if his will to win is strong enough.
And I know that is true for me.
And I know that living by these truths is my mission.