|This past weekend two interesting attention-getters showed up.|
First, I got the new Will Smith book, WILL, on Audible read by the actor. It’s damn good and highly recommended! I knew I liked him before but never knew how much – plus we share the same birthday of 9/25. So that’s pretty cool! The vulnerability here is so powerful and follows the arc many of the most successful Mavericks I know go through…and then come out the other side. It’s really incredible.
And second attention-getter, I met a wonderful Swedish elder/wisdom keeper at the le Ciel symposium which brought together many different changemakers from around the world. I’m in a group working on sacred sites and architecture to help “re-sacredize” the world. (More on that another time and how she made me cry!)
Now I had started the Will Smith book driving my son, Zack, to a hockey game in Philly a few weeks ago. It was a 2.5-hour drive and he listened for a little over an hour, so he was actually pretty engaged. (We tradeoff between question time in the car or listening to something or him on his phone on his own.)
|I listened to a lot more of the WILL audio on the plane ride to Spain for the symposium and one of the sections stood out so much, I just had to note it down in my journal. Will is talking about how he frequently speaks to entrepreneurs, artists, leaders, change makers, etc. and this is the conversation…|
|In case it is a little too hard to read, here’s what it says…|
“There’s a secret conversation that always seems to arise, “How can we fully pursue and realize our vision while at the same time cultivating love, a thriving family and fulfilling relationships? Here’s the harsh reality for everyone who loves a dreamer. Everything comes second to the dream! The attainment of the dream became an act of survival. In my darkest nights – my dreams – saved my life. It was my light…my food! My vision of brighter days sustained me. It was my whole purpose.” – Will Smith
As a Maverick Visionary does that hit you square between the eyes?
It sure felt spot on for me even today…
And it also reminded me of a radically honest conversation I had in Sweden with a Maverick member’s wife a few years ago.
Quick background and then on to the conversation…
The Ice Hotel had been on my Ultimate Life List ever since I heard about the remarkable “hotel” where you get to sleep in a balmy -5° and everything is built from snow and ice each year.
Harvested from the Torne River, huge blocks of crystal-clear ice are pieced together to build this magnificent hotel in December until it melts back into the river come April.
That’s something I found interesting to ponder. Imagine if your entire business ‘melted’ each year and you had to start anew. What would you keep? What would you change? It’s a really good exercise to consider since many times we keep things status quo for too long until outside forces or competitors force us to change. But what if the natural cycle of creation is closer to the way the Ice Hotel operates and we need to renew and rebuild each year?
Nearly all the members enjoyed sleeping in an ornate and totally unique art suite created by artists from all over the world. Each one features an entirely different design and look with amazing sculptures and other cool features. My art suite was called ‘Cold and Crazy’ and it was pretty perfect for me at this moment. It was a beautifully whimsical expression of the fun and joy associated with snow and ice.
This was definitely one of my top 5 trips ever and I feel like we have to bring it back. (Let us know if you’d want in!)
One part of the adventure took us deep into the Lapland in the Arctic circle. And that’s where this question came forward…
“Is Your Mission ‘More’ Important Than Your Family?”
That’s the question one of our Maverick1000 member’s wife, “D,” asked me.
But let me set the scene for you. We were in the Swedish Arctic, basically in the middle of nowhere. It was midnight, everyone had just driven their own team of dogs out to the Wilderness Lodge and a few of us were outside by the fire. These are the kind of meaningful conversations I enjoy.I
t’s a tough question and I decided to be more honest with her than I have ever been – even with myself.
I took a deep breath and said, “Yes.”
“Yes, my mission is the most important part of my life.”
I think I detected a small gasp since this was not the politically correct answer, but it’s true.
The big lie
To me, one of the big lies we tell ourselves as entrepreneurs is, “I’m doing this all for my family.”
Are you really? Is that why you’re home at 8pm and barely see any of the kids’ activities? Or why you’ve got an iPhone glued to your ear while playing catch outside.
Perhaps you believe your sacrifice will create a better tomorrow for your family.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Do you really think your kids will care whether or not you closed one extra deal at the office, or would they remember you coming home early and hanging out to play? It’s an easy lie to feed ourselves and swallow so we feel acknowledged for our work.
But really you’re just working because a) You are driven by your business mission & purpose or b) Your workaholic nature is rationalized by the “rewards” you bestow upon your family.
I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs who have done big things in their business but couldn’t hold their families together. They obviously put their business ahead of anything else and perhaps it’s the NOT admitting of such truths that creates the rift.
One couple I hang out with both socially and in business is a husband-and-wife team, D & M. We’ve had conversations about this a lot. He told me his wife understands why he works so hard, and that’s because what they’re building together benefits both of them and their family. Now that’s something that leads to more harmony instead of resentment.
Live your truth
Entrepreneurs out to do something big should not be embarrassed by their ambition. And they don’t need to wrap it in a socially palatable wrapper of, “I’m doing it all for my family.”
(Note: I wrote this section years ago and right now I would say the masculine energy is really what I am talking about here.)
Men are driven by mission and purpose. I think many female entrepreneurs are too, but they’re in an even more delicate position of trying to be a super mom, wife, business leader, etc. I can only give you my perspective as a male – but what we’re really talking about is the active “male” energy of creation that either sex can harness.
If you have read David Deida’s, The Way of the Superior Man book – this exchange comes from his book. Picture a WWII soldier saying his teary goodbyes to his girlfriend or wife.
Girl: “Don’t go. Stay with me!”
Scenario 1: Guy: “Ok, you’re right. I’m staying with you.”
Scenario 2: Guy “I have to go honey. It’s my duty and mission to help save the world.”
I would bet in scenario #1, you would have less respect for him, right? Scenario #2 is the way men are naturally wired.
I realized why I was struggling with admitting my mission is the most important thing for me. And it’s because when I’m home I create intention about how I spend the time with my family. (I am by no means perfect but simply having more awareness and clarity instead of attempting to mix it all together has created more mindfulness.)
One thing I told “D” around that fire was that even with my travel and work schedule, I never miss one of my kid’s birthdays or an important event. I remember missing an experience on an African Safari at Richard Branson’s private game resort so I could be home for Zoe’s 3rd birthday. Would she remember? Of course not. But that’s part of my commitment and I wasn’t bitter about it (even when I heard the amazing stories from the Mavericks who went).
(Note: This has remained constant! I still haven’t missed the big & little moments even as the kids are now 16 & 14. Zack had a hockey game today at 3:20pm and I was there freezing my butt off and loving it! Plus, I help coach his other travel hockey team.) 😉
My bigger and broader mission truly encompasses my family
My epiphany came as I talked through this in Sweden with the others: actually, a portion of my mission that I wasn’t totally seeing directly engulfs my family, too.
The working draft of my personal mission is to connect, catalyze and co-create a bigger future for entrepreneurs using transformative experiences, resources, education and inspiration. I’m driven by the desire to help entrepreneurs destined for greatness to get to the next level in their business, happiness and global cosmic contribution.
|(Note: This was the original Maverick DNA before we changed to a tree to represent growth.)|
Inside these 3 interconnected circles – it makes complete sense that your family and personal relationship need to be a piece of it. Part of your impact is with the immediate people around you and a big part of your lifestyle comes from the happiness around your relationships.
Today I look at what I do with my family through a Transformer lens for other entrepreneurial families. I want to apply the resources and lessons as they’re being learned to hopefully become better road maps for others with their families, raising entrepreneurial kids and creating meaningful relationships.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons we’ve put on our Family Freedom events for entrepreneurial families. (It’s time to bring these back too!) The parents have discussions on being better parents and raising more entrepreneurial kids, while the kids learn about business and go out on the streets to sell. During this, there are fun adventures that create meaningful family memories. It wasn’t profitable but I did it to make sure I create situations that will benefit my family and other Maverick entrepreneur families around me.
One of the things I believe that trips up entrepreneurs is not having values in a hierarchy. We always show what we value based on the time and attention we provide it. So why not do it with intention. One of my first encounters doing this was back in 1998(!) with Hyrum Smith’s book 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management.
One of the best exercises in that book was to create your values and then rank them. Here’s what I had for quite a long time in my planner:
|I’d say almost all of these apply in most ways, but the order might be different. Being true to myself #5 (Following my Dreams and Ambitions) would actually be #1 now because it can lead to everything else.|
(Updated: Now re-looking at this again many years later I think a version of #9 – I am spiritually & emotionally sound would be #1 value for me.)
Your order will vary. Your values will be different but having this as a road map for you really helps when you feel conflicted or divided about what is the most important ‘thing’ to do.
Ok so back to Sweden…” D’s” husband, Maverick member, “M”, actually thanked me the next day. He said I’d given voice to something he had struggled with for a long time.
His commitment to his mission seems to overshadow his relationship.
What do you think?