You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying before – a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Well, that’s often said about companies, countries and charity organizations, but the same can be said of people. You are greater than the sum of your parts.
I got to thinking about this after watching an exceedingly tense film called Miss Julie (based on a Swedish play of the same name). The long and short of it is that Julie, a high-born woman, comes to find that she is really nothing more than the sum of what her parents taught her to be. She has nothing of her own ‘self’ at all.
You are not only the sum of what you’ve been taught to be. You are so much more – it’s just that accessing the “more” is a tricky, terrifying, drawn-out process. I was recently reading an article from Get Storied about the importance of finding a better mission for yourself. An actual, personal mission that deeply reflects who you are and what you want to do with your life. “Making the world better” is not a personal mission. Ditto “helping people”. Personal means personal. It comes from within. Personal means that it’s risky and it puts you in a vulnerable position and you won’t be entirely comfortable. But that’s the whole point.
The tragedy is, most people probably never even look that deeply into themselves. They’re like Miss Julie – they assume that their personal mission is whatever they’ve been taught it should be – oftentimes without even realizing they’re internalizing external factors. If I’m totally honest, I don’t know what my mission is. I could spout off any number of success indicators that could be construed as a “mission”. I’m doing everything right. Aren’t I?
The article mentioned above suggests that these three questions will help you find your mission:
- What’s the thing you’re most curious about?
- What’s the riddle you’re trying to solve; or the nut you’re trying to crack?
- What are you working on that’s much larger than yourself?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know the personal answers to those questions. I’ve been thinking my way around them for years. That’s what we’re supposed to do. But now it’s time for some answers. Push yourself, ask these questions, take the time to find the answers.
Your mission depends on it.