I’ve written before about a Visionary Leadership class I’m taking where I need to create a 5 year career plan starting by defining my values, purpose and vision. I previously made some draft attempts on values and purpose. I have continued to refine them over other last few weeks and have added a new section, contradictions or those traits that inhibit you from reaching your goals. My vision is a bit too raw and incomplete at this point to be shared.
Honor – This value is the heart of me and is the framework upon which the other values hang. Without Honor, the other values simply have less meaning. For me, honor is embodied by: integrity, courage, decency, fairness, honesty, incorruptibility, trustworthiness, and truthfulness.
Acumen – It took me a long time to find a word to express this value. To me, acumen combines raw intellectual power that has been harnessed with training and education to create excellence, even brilliance. With this usage, there are also components of perception and wisdom.
Tenacity – I could also have chosen gumption here. To me tenacity is embodied by: perseverance, courage, dedication, heart, independence, indomitability, resoluteness, resolve, self-confidence, steadfastness, and valor.
Service – As with acumen, I’ve have difficulty finding an appropriate word for this value. I started with kindness but it’s more than that. There is a component here of doing more than is required, because it is the right thing to do (so is related to honor), because the capacity exists to do more. To me, service is embodied by: helpfulness, philanthropy, thoughtfulness, compassion, decency, and graciousness.
Purpose of my Career
The purpose of my career is to create hope and opportunity so that there is less suffering in the world. Currently, I use basic biomedical research as a mechanism to achieve my purpose. I conduct research on a fatal and untreatable disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The purpose of my research is to identify molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in this devastating illness so that people affected by ALS can one day live longer, healthier lives. One thing that I have been thinking about is how else I might accomplish this.
There are three interconnected road-blocks to achieving my vision: complacency, fear and a desire for security.
Complacency – For me great change requires a strong level of dissatisfaction with my life or situation. If I am comfortable, there is a tremendous risk of me becoming complacent and not finding the impetus for major growth or change. For me, discomfort is a great motivator. This one is somewhat difficult to overcome. I despise complainers who focus on what they do not yet have without valuing what they already do. I am fully aware of how excellent my present is compared to my past. I need to find a way to value my present while still finding motivation for change and improvement. I do this in small ways, such as this MBA program, but it lacks the urgency required for dramatic change.
Fear – I fear change and the unknown. I know that change is inevitable and will be present in all facets of life. Yet at the same time, making voluntary risky changes is difficult for me. Will the change make my life better or worse? What if it’s worse? This is contradictory since I tremendously value excellence (acumen) and striving to improve (tenacity) but large change for me is frightening. Only in the absence of complacency can I generally overcome this fear. I am working to overcome this and simply “do it now” or “do it anyway” but change comes slowly to me.
Desire for Security – this is related to fear of change and the unknown. I find security and comfort in the sameness of small daily rituals. I know that change will come and thus take comfort in those small things that do not change much. These small things do not even need to be optimized, their familiarity is sufficient to provide comfort to me (e.g. Kraft Mac & Cheese; a book read countless times). So long as they do not create dissatisfaction or discomfort I do not feel a strong impetus for change.
Is my vision worth giving up the known and comfortable to pursue? Is my vision so much more desirable than the goodness and comfort of my present that it is worth risking the current path for?