December 17, 2004

What Is Your Purpose? Are You Good or Are You Great?

Have you ever sat down and thought about that question? It can be thought about on a lot of levels, personal, family, homeschool, home, work and so on. Recently Serona and I read "Good to Great" by Jim Collins and really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it to everyone to read. The book is written as a scientific study on what makes a good company into a great company but it has many valuable lessons for everyone even not in the realm of business.

After reading this book Serona and I sat down to discuss our family's priorities and how those affect our personal priorities. For a long time Serona and I have tried to live in a purposeful way, attempting to live out what we believe to the fullest even when it is difficult. We are in no way perfect in this but we try hard and often achieve our goals in many areas. We decided we needed to write it down and form a sort of mission statement for our family with our priorities clearly listed for us to review when making decisions.

Jim Collins outlines a concept he calls a "Hedgehog Concept" which he defines as an understanding of what you can be the best in the world at. To find this he recommends looking at the intersection of the following three concepts:

1. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at).

2. What drives your economic engine.

3. What you are deeply passionate about.

At first glance it may appear like these do not apply directly to homeschooling families or stay at home parents, but we found that they did. For us we needed to take a hard look at all the things we are trying to accomplish and prioritize. We are a family that suffers from too many good options. There are many good people who want to be part of our lives, there are many good volunteer opportunities we would enjoy and be good at, there are many roles in our church and neighborhood that we would be able to fulfill and of course there are many outstanding approaches and curriculums for homeschooling, many field trips and organizations that would benefit us in some way. But good does not always make it right, being the best on paper does not make you the best for the job you need to look at the whole picture and with families that means the whole picture for everyone and for each individual. This is where we found the hegdehog concept to be so useful.

We decided to take a hard look at our lives and really decide what was important to us and what fell within the intersection Jim Collins was talking about to see what we should focus on. What we found did not surprise us, what surprised us was how much we were already living much of that out with two major areas we need to improve on. We created our family's mission statement which for us we are calling a "hedgehog concept" because Collin's book affected us both and that articulates so much to us.

For us we created a mission statement, a family bible verse and then 6 goals we want to further as a family. When we make decisions we will look at that list and see how each area is affected before making a decision, from the big to the small. We found that in many ways we are already doing that but there are places we need to improve. For us this sort of purposeful living is the way to a peaceful, balanced and happy life. It is a way to move forward towards our goals and remove the clutter and stumbling blocks in our way.

I recommend that you sit down as a family and think through some of these things for yourself and come up with your family's goals. As an example I will post the brief summary of our family's goals here:

MISSION: Living Intentionally not Reactionary through Discipline and Balance
FAMILY VERSE: "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD ." Joshua 24:15

1. Be a light for Christ
2. Increase Family Relationships
marriage, siblings, parent-child, family to family
3. Promote Health of Family
exercise, nutrition, decrease stress
4. Financial Responsibility
get out of debt, prepare for future, 30 day purchase test
5. Promote Homeschooling
lifetime learning and love of learning for all family members
6. Advance Writing Goals
carving time for both writers, prioritizing over other hobbies and interests

I am sure that your family's goals will not look at all the same, but the important thing is to think about them, write them down and then start living by them. When you have done this you have a clear purpose to focus on and deciding what should and should not be included becomes very obvious and easy to see. Then the job of follow through is the challenge. I agree with Jim Collins that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to becoming great is being good. When we are good at something we often allow ourselves to stay there and stop working towards being great. Remember the old adage from Mother Goose many of teach our children: "Good, better, best: never rest till “good” be “better” and “better” best. Let us remember that ourselves and live it out in our personal, family, home, work and homeschooling lives.

Good luck in your purposeful life and thanks for being a part of ours!


1 comment:

  1. What an amazingly inspiring (and inspired) post. Thank you for sharing this. This is a powerful piece.