A decade ago, I led a management buyout of a division I was running. As I assumed the role of CEO of the new, small company, I realized one of my primary job responsibilities was to create a new company culture. I was faced with the question, what did I want to build? As I had learned in business school, I needed to build a strong foundation for the company which meant I needed to guide the organization through defining our mission, vision and values. The process took longer than we had planned which created some anxiety because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with creating our product or serving our customers (which in turn generates profits needed to pay salaries!). Over the next five years, the company went on to great success and grew from 80 to over 250 employees prior to being sold to a larger company. I attributed a lot of our success to the time we spent defining our mission, vision and values.
Once the business was sold, I was launched into a transition. No longer employed, I had some time to examine my own life as I entered “midlife.” With the help of some loving guides, I was able to look at some of my core beliefs that didn’t seem to be effective. In other words, I complained to my guides I wasn’t getting what I wanted and they helped me trace the undesired outcomes to some of my long held, never challenged core beliefs. Why did I believe being vulnerable was a sign of weakness? Why did I believe I couldn’t trust anyone except myself?
During one retreat experience, I was encouraged to look at the cornerstone of my life. Who Am I? What is the difference between who I am and the roles that I play? What is my personal mission? As a business leader, I knew a company needed a mission, but I had never thought about my own personal mission! With the loving support of friends and guides over a period of years, I created and refined my own personal mission, vision and values statement. Today, I am intentional about who I am and what I my mission is: I am a child of God who is creating (with God’s help) a world of trust, love and joy by moving through fear, accepting emotions, staying present with God, celebrating essence, taking responsibility and forgiving.
Who are you? What are you building? If you haven’t examined these questions in your life, I invite you to begin the journey! This isn’t a quick or easy journey, nor one that God wants you to take alone. Find resources, guides, friends or whatever you need to accompany you on this journey – and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way! – Bill Ernstrom, Director of Operations