It is hard enough to find your mission, your purpose in life. But our mission, our purpose in life, can drift if left to its own devices. Years down the track, we might be a long way from where we started. But not by choice, by drift. Mission drift. For anyone passionate about devoting their life to a higher purpose, a cause that is focused on helping others — a life of significance — that is a sobering reminder. Mission drift can happen. To anyone. It’s a bit like an ocean liner: A slight shift in the rudder by a few degrees can lead to a significant change in course. You might have been heading to France, but you ended up in Iceland.
The Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life ends on an upbeat, inspirational note fitting for the season it celebrates. George Bailey, the reluctant head of the small building and loan founded by his father and uncle, is saved from ruin by the generosity of the citizens of Bedford Falls. They show up at his house on Christmas Eve to give generously from their modest means to help George make right an accidental and potentially catastrophic $8,000 shortfall.
A key to living a life of significance is having a compelling vision you can devote your life to. And one of the most critical factors in seeing that vision come to reality is the level of passion you have for it. A vision without passion is like a car without an engine. It may look like a sleek Ferrari, but without an engine, it is going nowhere. An abiding passion for your vision is critical for its success.
The key to leading a life of significance, a life that helps others, and moving beyond a searing experience, a crucible moment, where you are forever changed, is to understand your design. We are all designed a certain way. If we look at those around us, our children, siblings, and our loved ones, we all come out of the box with our own wiring. We may be creative and artistic or love math and the sciences, or we may be adventurous and athletic. We all have certain aptitudes. If we are wise, we will understand our innate strengths and giftings, and build upon them.
You may have been through a crucible experience, a gut-wrenching, even humiliating experience. It may be a business or professional failure, or it may be a health or family challenge. Whatever it is, the course of your life has forever been changed. You have faced the fork in the road: whether to wallow in the pain of your crucible experience or to try to move beyond it. You have chosen to move ahead.
A crucible is a cauldron where metals are thrown together and heated to very high temperatures. The metals combine to form an alloy, something that is different than it was before. A crucible experience is one that is life-altering. Who you are after your crucible experience is different than you were before. You are never the same.
One of the most cautionary tales in recent corporate history is how Netflix embraced change and Blockbuster didn’t. As of 2018, Netflix, barely 20 years old, had a stock market value of nearly $165B, with 130 million subscribers in 200 countries. Blockbuster was out of business by then, having filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after incurring more than $1B in losses the previous year.
Change is not easy, which is a major challenge for us because we live in a world that is forever changing. Technology is changing. The market is changing. The culture is changing. Not only is everything around us changing, but it seems that change is happening at an ever-increasing rate.
Growing up in a 150-year-old family media business, my self-worth was inextricably tied to the family business and the family dynasty. I saw my role in life as carrying on the family business to the next generation, and to honor the legacy of my great-great-grandfather, John Fairfax, and my father, Sir Warwick Fairfax.
For many of us, our self-worth is tied to our job and career. If we are doing well at our job, we feel good about ourselves. But if we are not performing well at work, life might not look so good. This may seem normal, so what’s the problem? Isn’t this just life?