Simultaneously starting a new job and planning for a new year is proving to be rather fortuitous. Like many people, before I settle into a new job I arrive with a list of goals (short and long term) that I plan to help the team accomplish over the course of my tour of duty. It’s really no different than the end of year planning and reflecting ritual my wife and I share. This year I find myself evaluating progress toward 2012 goals, refining new job goals, and committing to 2013 goals. This time around I chose to apply some of the knowledge gained by reading C.C Chapman’s book, Amazing Things Will Happen. I listed each of my goals, looked at them in the aggregate and distilled them into three themes, each described with a single word. It did not take me long to realize that my subconscious was telling me the focus of 2013 and my ninth tour of duty would be Family, Intersections, and Legacy.
I know many people who claim that their family is their priority. Too often, these are the same people who routinely spend excessive hours in the office and worry more about the collar devices they aspire to wear than nurturing relationships with loved ones. Many of us talk about family being a priority, but do our actions demonstrate a commitment to the same? Do we continually spend our time in such a way as to say, our family is in fact more important than our work? Are we deliberate about building memories with our loved ones while we can? Are we careful to not outsource the bulk of our children’s development during their most impressionable years? Our nation asks many of our servicemen to spend excessive amounts of time away from home. Fortunately, that is not the case for me. The only thing preventing any of us from being able to respond in the affirmative to each of the above is bad personal choices. I recently had a conversation with an Admiral where I told him that he and his peers didn’t make their jobs look like much fun and that happiness did not appear to be a shared priority with his peer group. That is not a life to which I aspire and given the opportunity, I am certain my approach would be very different (likely one of a few reasons stars are not in my future).
Life continues to remind me that the greatest opportunities are at the intersection between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the comfort zone and the new experience, or the combination of people with different areas of expertise. This year I will live at each of the aforementioned intersections. I will explore things that I have never done, while making time for the experiences and people I have already grown to thoroughly enjoy. I will play to my strengths while attempting to develop a few others. I will expand my personal and professional network while ensuring my current network knows how much I value them. I recently went to a dinner party with a mentor and on a separate occasion enjoyed some time with a protege. I noted on both occasions that though we shared similar networks of which all three of us were a part, we could create even more value by focusing on the relationships we don’t have in common. I then challenged the three of us to focus on being the tangent where our respective spheres of influence met. The significance of this year and this tour will be measured in large part by the number of circles of which I am a part that share a meaningful tangent. They need not overlap, but they certainly must meet.
Unfortunately, a few of my friends passed away this year. We also rung many Shipmates ashore for the last time as they retired from the Navy. Though I hope it is not the case, this could be my last tour in the Navy. The more mindful we are about how finite time actually is, whether it is a day, a vacation, a tour of duty, a career, or a lifetime, the more cognizant we are about how we spend it and the more we should consider the legacy we are leaving, intentionally or otherwise. It need not be confined to the context of death, but as Ray Bradbury wrote in Fahrenheit 451, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die . . . It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” This year and this tour will be just as much about what I leave for others, as it will be how I personally grow. Truth is, the more we focus on a meaningful legacy, the more we will undoubtedly grow in the process. This year and tour is about mentoring others, leading with my Shipmates, and writing that book I’ve been planning. My personal mandate is to both help prepare my Shipmates for increased greatness after I depart and myself for the greater challenges that lie ahead.
There is no need to share the details of my goals this year, but I believe I have shared enough to enable you to keep me honest. If it isn’t obvious to you that my family is priority one, please help me to get back on course. If you see me staying in my comfort zone, nudge me. If you don’t see me investing in the development of others, making progress on my book, or preparing myself for increased opportunity, remind me of this post. Goal setting may be an individual action, but goal achievement is a team sport. What is it you want to achieve? Have you shared it with others so we can help you? Are you helping others to achieve their goals?
Note: One of my virtual mentors, Zig Ziglar, passed away two weeks ago. He shared a great deal of wisdom with thousands and lived a life that in many ways was a demonstration of his commitment to much of what I shared above (funny how influenced we are by what we read and listen to, so be mindful of the media we choose). Given the topic of this post I wanted to share my favorite quote of his – “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” We can’t help, if we don’t share.