That’s the question one of our Maverick1000 members wives, “D,” asked me…
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.
It’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. 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.”
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 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 – I believe I got this exchange from the book. Picture a WWII solider saying his teary goodbyes to his girlfriend or wife.
Girl: “Don’t go. Stay with me!”
Guy: “Ok, you’re right. I’m staying with you.”
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).
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.
The simplified version might look familiar to you:
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 event every July 4th for the last three years for entrepreneurial families. 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. I think it can get bigger at some point but I don’t do it as a profitable venture (yet) but as a reason to make sure I create situations that will benefit my family and other Maverick entrepreneur families around me.
What’s more, I’m proud of many of our Maverick members who have created a bigger mission for themselves and their companies that automatically incorporates their family. Maverick1000 member, Vishen Lakihani, owner of Mindvalley publishes of some of the world’s best self-development programs all over the world. Their mission is to spread awesomeness. That means awesomeness wouldn’t be complete without spreading awesomeness to all areas of his life, including his family.
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 just about every single one of them still applies but the order might be different. Being true to myself #4 (Following my Dreams and Ambitions) would actually be #1 now because it can lead to everything else. 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 seeming to overshadow his relationship.
What do you think?