Columnists Features

Neglected vineyards: What is your personal mission?

LAST week, I talked about people who, despite working for an organisation for years, cannot tell you the mission or vision statement of the organisation despite the fact that it is written down in the organisation’s documents or even displayed in the foyer. There are also those who “know” the mission and vision but only superficially because they neither understand nor are able to explain them.
This week, I would like to shift my focus to people who know, understand, have internalised, and can competently explain – and when necessary even successfully defend – the mission and vision of their organisation; yet they cannot tell you the mission and vision of their personal life. This week, we need to ask ourselves one critical question: Do I have a mission and vision for my own life?
The thrust of my thoughts is perhaps well captured in the Bible, Song of Solomon 1: 6, which reads: “They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept.” It is possible to be a faithful and efficient keeper of other people’s vineyards and yet neglect your own; you can be a very good and laudable executor of your employer’s mission and vision and yet fall short when it comes to executing your personal mission and vision. Worse still, you might have none!
Each time you recite or talk about the mission and vision of your organisation or employer, ask yourself: What is my personal mission? What is my vision? Mission has to do with the purpose of your life, or the reason for your existence. Vision has to do with what you would like to become. Mission is where you are; vision is where you will end up.
You need a clear personal mission and vision for the same reason that an institution needs them: Clarity and Certainty. You must be very clear and certain about the purpose for which you exist, because then you will stick to those things that will help you fulfil your purpose on earth. You will not waste time, efforts and resources pursuing things that will not advance your purpose. Whether we know it or not, our success is tied to the purpose of our existence.
As a water creature, a fish can only be successful in water, not outside. Which is why I agree with the quote attributed to the famous inventor Albert Einstein: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The point: a fish was not meant to climb trees, never purpose-made for survival outside water, as a matter of fact.
How often do we live like fish outside water – busying ourselves with things irrelevant to the purpose of our existence; trying to achieve dreams we are not equipped to achieve. Are you pursuing the right dream? If you are struggling to achieve it, it might be an indication that you were not meant to pursue it. Is it not the height of unreasonableness, for instance, to pursue a career in accountancy when you cannot even solve simple mathematical problems?
It is not enough, though, to know and pursue your purpose – you must also have an idea of where the purpose will lead you – and that is where vision comes in. What is your vision? What do you see yourself becoming in, say, five years from now, or ten years from now? What do you want to achieve by the end of next year? Would you confidently say that the things on which you exert your energy are leading you towards attaining your vision? Or are you busy with the mission and vision of your employer while neglecting your own?

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