Give Me Five Myths And I’ll Give You The Truth!

Living life requires that you achieve a key success factor:

Clarify your personal mission in work and in life.

I’ve thought a bit about this topic lately, so I picked up a book by one of my favorite authors, Laurie Beth Jones.  In her book, The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life, she highlights eleven myths that people often believe about their mission.

personal growth plan


According to Wikipedia, a mission statement is:

A mission statement is a formal, short, written statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its goals, give a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”

You are just as important as a company or organization.  In fact, it is Steven Covey who pioneered the concept that we should have our own personal mission statements to make sure that we are living lives in sync with our values, passions, talents, and strengths.  The world around us will benefit when we are living up to our full potential.

But before we go about the process of creating our personal mission statements, it’s important to understand some “myth-understandings” that many of us have about our mission.

6 Myths Re: Personal Mission

Myth #1: “My job is my mission.”

Your job, particularly in this global economy, is certain to undergo many changes during your lifetime.  If you are confining your sense of mission only to your job, you are greatly limiting your possibilities, talents, and strengths.  You need to look beyond your current job when figuring out you personal mission in life.  Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for loss of a sense of identity if your job should be downsized suddenly.  Further, your mission keeps you grounded both at work and away from work, so that you have a sense of balance between your work and personal lives.

Myth #2: “My role is my mission.”

At different stages in life, you will find that different roles dominate your life.  It’s important to remember that your mission extends beyond whatever role you’re giving the most time and attention in your life now.

For example, an adult child who is caring for their ill parent may find that they become consumed with the role of the caretaker.  Years may pass, and they may find that giving care to a loved one is the only thing they knew how to do really well, or became comfortable with.  After that loved one passes, there may once again be a loss of a sense of who they are, since this very big part of their life is gone.

After some counseling and support, this adult child may find that they can re-define their sense of mission as ‘service.’  They may find it very helpful to serve in many different capacities, perhaps at a place of worship, or at a nursing home, or an a social service agency as a volunteer.  Their mission will then serve to invigorate them and help them integrate that loss into their life in a significant way.

Myth #3: “My ‘To-Do’ list is my mission.”

Sometimes we stay really busy to feel as though we are accomplishing meaningful things.  Sometimes we stay busy to avoid that nagging feeling that we are unhappy doing what we are doing.  Sometimes we stay busy to avoid the slowing down, self-reflection, and meditation that are the ‘real’ activities required to get in touch with our personal missions.

There are many “things” we can engage in, but they may fall into the class of ‘not so important’ activities.  When choose activities that are in line with our true sense of calling and mission, our activities are then put in their proper places.

Myth #4: “I am not currently living my mission.”

Sometimes we can tend to downplay what we are already doing in our lives, thinking that somehow we have missed the boat.  Too often, we are so focused on what we don’t have, what we aren’t doing, and on the goals we have not yet accomplished, that we lose awareness of what we do have, what we have accomplished and are accomplishing.  

The goal is to increase our awareness of what parts of our mission we are already living, so that we can life our mission even more fully.  Living more fully does not always mean planning for the future, when we think we’ll  have more resources and accomplishments.  We can bloom where we are planted.  In fact, greatness often comes from constant and never-ending improvement, making each day a masterpiece, and being faithful to our opportunities and responsibilities within our circle of influence.

Myth #5: “I am not important enough to have a mission.”

Every leader, every person of influence, every great historical figure has had their moments of self-doubt, feelings of failure, and a wish to throw in the towel.  In fact, many times, they thought they had thrown in the towel.

Every positive action you take, every choice you make to live with integrity, every act of kindness, love, and service you do for another human being is like a stone being thrown into a calm lake.  It ripples out, in never-ending concentric circles.

Do not deprive the world of the great things you can carry out, particularly when your make sure that your vision and mission are crafted under the awareness of your Creator.

Here is a beautiful piece of Scripture that Ms. Jones shares at the end of her chapter about this topic of personal mission.

I hope you will take it to heart, so that you can see how valuable you are to God, the Creator of your body and soul:

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, LORD,

and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue

you, LORD, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, [a] God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

Creative Commons License photo credit: rahego

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  1. says

    Hello Steve,

    Great list! In particular myth4, I like the most : “I’m currently not living my mission”.

    I learnt that it is impossible to not live my mission. The mission stays, no matter what. Sometimes I’m less focused, but still I’m living according my mission. The challenge is to stay aware of the part of the mission I’m currently living and as you say: “we can bloom where we are planted”

    Thanks for sharing!
    marc van der Linden recently posted…How a practical joke learnt me how to deal with angerMy Profile

    • says

      Marc, thanks for the comment. For many, it is possible to not live their mission. First, they have to take the time to discover what their particular mission is. Then, as you said, they have to stay aware of that mission on a daily basis.

  2. says

    great post. Everyone gets caught up in their “job” or “career” as their mission statement, and then when they get laid off for a couple of years, like what is happening to millions of people in this economy, then they are devastated. They tried to convince themselves that what they were spending 80 hours a week on and what they were dedicating their lives to, was their mission statement. Once they are laid off with not hope of working in the same industry, they realize, they were not even close to living their mission statement. This economic upheaval has forced so many people to read articles like this and really think seriously about what their mission statement is for themselves. I have a mission statement for my personal life and for my business.
    Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim@Thesis Tutorial, Thesis Theme, WordPress Tutorial recently posted…WordPress Tutorial: How to Update to WordPress 3.2 or WordPress 3.2.1My Profile

    • says

      Jim, you make such a great point. As a Christian, I must remember that my mission is not dependent upon my job. However, work is such an important part of our lives that we can easily get discouraged if we are no longer able to work those 80 hours per week. That’s why volunteering, serving others, and engaging in our mission in other ways is so important during those times of transition.

  3. says

    Terrific article Stephen … I especially relate to your Myth #4 because I think for the great majority of us we tend to down play our accomplishments … overlooking the small achievements each day while waiting for something BIG to celebrate. Each day we have things we can and should be celebrating!
    marquita herald recently posted…Standing Up for What You Believe InMy Profile

    • says

      Judy, thank you very much! Thank you, as well, for the work of love you are bringing to all of us. I really enjoyed your post that you provided for my other blog, Personal Growth Development, today.

  4. says

    Hi Steve,

    Goodness, I think I’ve lived all of those myths at one time or another!

    It’s a real struggle (not in a bad way, it’s a good struggle!) for me to keep my life balanced after a live of living to work – a massive learning curve for sure!

    Do not deprive the world of the great things you can carry out indeed! There’s a quote I love by Marianne Williamson that goes:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    I’m not a Christian, but, this quote was like a slap on the face when I first read it… a wake up call!

    All the best,

    Emma :-)
    Emma recently posted…10 uses for video conferencingMy Profile

    • says

      Emma, thank you very much for your comment. I had heard J.B. Glossinger from first quote Marianne’s words a couple of years ago. It’s a powerful quote, indeed. It’s amazing to think how much we can change our world just by being our best possible selves.

  5. says

    Well for me, what I like most is the Myth # 3. I agree that we all have so many important things to do in our life but we doesn’t really have paying attention to others., that shouldn’t be taking for granted. We should have to prioritize those things that are important in our life, meaningful and also would do great things in your future. Having a good plan for your personal growth is indeed important to have a better life.
    Tony Tate@Leadership recently posted…Putting The “I” Back In SpicyMy Profile

  6. says

    Hi Stephen,
    Myth #3 resonates with me. For the longest time, I’ve convinced myself that keeping busy means that I’m accomplishing something. I tried to ignore that nagging feeling that there’s more to life than what I was doing and I was unhappy. It was not until something happened to disrupt my routine that I had to re-evaluate my life and I realized that I can still make a difference and improve the quality of my life and do something meaningful.
    I’m glad to say that I’m now on the path to fulfilling my personal mission in life. I don’t have all the answers but I’m learning everyday.
    Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

  7. says

    Very interesting post about having a personal mission statement. I have read Stephen Covey many years ago and found his concepts sometimes hard to put into action. Many times in life I have found my personal mission was in conflict with the person who I got a paycheck from. This has become much more apparent recently. Your post has given me a wake up call to really develop my personal mission so I can become clearer of where my path really lies.
    Joyce Edwards recently posted…News Flash! It’s OK to be Obese!My Profile

  8. says

    Hi Stephen, I am realizing that clarity of our Mission is very important. I am working on that lately and will in the future until it is clarified. In our busy lives our To Do list often takes priority. However, that can be a good thing if we have clarified our goals and implemented weekly and daily To Do lists that will take us to that goals, or Mission as you speak of. As long as we Eat our Frogs first instead of chasing rabbits, we will be more in line with our mission/goals for our life.
    Thank you for inspiring us to get this figured out, so we can be more successful.
    Have a great week!
    Lynn Jones recently posted…Valuable Keys to Prevent Any Dark Clouds in Your Network Marketing CareerMy Profile

  9. says

    Hi Stephen,

    To be honest, my to do list is my mission. I used to take my job as my mission and your mentioned above is so true. There can be lots of limitation. For example, we confine ourselves to only one area and will never train our mind to open up to more possibilities to succeed.

    With my to do list as my mission, I can easily link that to achieve my long term and short term goal.

    Thanks for this inspiring post, Stephen. It really makes me think again before commenting :-)

    Pearly Quah recently posted…Make Your Money Work Harder For YouMy Profile

  10. says

    Ho Stephen,

    Your first myth — My job is my mission — particularly resonates with me. Being a part of the Baby Boomer generation and specifically in the health care field, I see so many of my colleagues base their sole identity on their job. Of course their job is important and helps others, but to say that you ARE your job is a bit dangerous, given the rate of company layoffs and firings due to the economy.

    I’ve seen it many times. Someone dedicated to their profession loses their job for whatever reason and they are lost, because they feel that their job was who they were.
    Dr. Bob Clarke recently posted…Lessons from Hurricane Irene: Are You a Survivor or Victim?My Profile

    • says

      Dr. Bob, this is so true. I’ve seen it myself with both men and women. I think it’s so important to be fully engaged in your full mission, beyond your job, so that a loss of a job does not hit a person so hard.

  11. says

    I love your phrase, to make “each day a masterpiece!” As we stay within God’s will we can know that our tasks, no matter how big or small, have been given to us by Him. I tend to be frustrated when I cannot complete my “to-do” list, but am trying to remember that God knows my day and what needs to be accomplished. All I need to do is what lies before me. He knows what I need to do for this day, to accomplish the mission He’s given me. Tough lesson. One I learn over and over again.

    Psalms 139 is one of my favorites (I have a lot of those :) None of us can escape God, and that’s a good thing, because He’s the only One who knows us completely and totally — and loves us anyway!
    Pastor Sherry recently posted…Reframing Painful Memories/Situations, Part 6-B My Profile

    • says

      Wow, Kevin. I look forward to hearing the positive results this process will yield for your church.

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