Last week I spent two days in attendance at the leadership class in which I’m currently participating. Although I knew we would be working on mission statements, we did other activities first to guide us in the right direction. First we created what I’ve come to think of as a storyboard. We had to create a poster by drawing our story. We weren’t allowed to use any words, only pictures. Then, each of the 20 of us in the class had to present our boards and explain the meaning behind what we drew. I found this to be an extremely intimate act, and was very uncomfortable talking about my poster in that setting. I certainly left much of the meaning out. Here’s the poster I created:
As I identified in my post Evolution, my five core values (ranked in order) are service, humility, love, acceptance and growth. As you can see I have no artistic talent whatsoever! That aside, the hand represents service and is highlighted in yellow because this is such a foundational component of who I am. Humility is characterized by the stick figure of myself in a seated position, head bowed, relaxed and (if you can see this much detail) smiling slightly. The red heart of course is to capture the value I place both on giving and receiving love. The green attempt to draw some sort of plant, cliche though it may be, was the best way I could come up with to illustrate my personal emphasis on the importance of growth.
The rainbow is a bit more complex for me. While its strong association with LGBTQIA certainly applies to me, I see it as a broader portrayal of acceptance than that. For example, kink, polyamory and even being trans all remain extremely likely to cause one to be ostracized in our society. The new tattoo I mentioned in this post will incorporate the rainbow’s colors both to represent the progress that has been made and all the work yet to be done for mankind to accept the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC which I truly hold so dear.
Near the bottom of my poster a clean, clear path complete with multiple clear signs indicating this is the expected direction of travel remains empty as I forge ahead on my own, in a very different direction, despite the uneven, rocky, winding path which awaits. All my life I have traveled my own path. At times it has been as natural as breathing, while other times it has nearly destroyed me as I fought to understand myself, my needs and desires, and let go of ambition which would not ultimately deliver happiness. While the road less traveled is certainly yet another cliche, creativity and artistic talent are not among my strengths, so I had to make due!
My poster design began at the top, with the yin yang and the enso. These symbols represent my spirituality which is deeply rooted in eastern thinking. Balance, the beginner’s mind, openness, contentedness/oneness, enlightenment, simplicity, infinity, strength, elegance, and so much more is encompassed by these two powerful zen symbols. In spite of this display of my lack of talent, it also demonstrates my precise nature in a couple of ways. The two circles are nearly identical as I traced a small paper plate to form them so they would be as circular and equal in size as possible. Also, my rainbow is colored in the proper order based on the wavelengths of each color in the visible spectrum of light (ROYGBIV). Once again, this reveals one of my core aspects, that of how my brain functions and the expectations/filters through which I view my own work. Doing this in any other way is simply not an option for me.
The final element in my poster is a small, black lightning bolt in the lower right-hand corner. In my leadership class I was the last person to present as I had zero desire to do so in the first place and therefore did not offer to go before I absolutely had to bite the bullet. It was interesting to me that every other person’s board focused on their past, more of their life story and how they came to be who they are as opposed to my board which is focused on who and what I am now and who I choose to continue to work towards being with minimal expression of my past. The other significant difference between my poster and every other person’s was that mine was only about me; no other people were featured in any way. This does not mean that I don’t care deeply about my family, I simply chose to focus internally rather than externally in order to attempt to express my story as truthfully as possible. At the end of the day, my story is my story.
Getting back to the lightning bolt, it seemed a fitting symbol for the struggles, scars and fear which have ruled most of my life. However, I would not be who I am today were it not for my past. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m grateful for all that I’ve had to survive, but I am no longer ruled by my past. That is why the lighting bolt is so small compared to the other images and why it is below both stick figures of myself. I have overcome great adversity in so many ways, and that is something of which I can now be proud. Addressing my past will never be easy for me, but I am far more at peace with it than I ever thought possible. I have accepted my past – the good, the bad and the ugly.
The next exercise we did also involved creating a poster, this time focusing on the acronym “I AM” which stands for inspiration, ability and more. We used magazines and glue sticks to show what inspires us, abilities we have and what more we want in the future. I managed to find a car magazine and was able to create my poster using only that one magazine – boy was I impressed with myself! Other than using magazines and creating something for each of those three categories, the only other requirement for this poster was that we somehow identify each category. Once again my poster was significantly different from all of the others; I am the only person who did not have a single picture, and I am also the only person who did not write or use letter cut outs to identify my categories. Most (if not all) of the other posters sported either three vertical columns or a Y type division. As you can see, I went a different route.
I: Lustfully loud and thunderously fast; the team; less is more; aggression in its most elegant form; Mercedes roadster; driving; horsing around.
A: Choose; pushing the absolute limit; game-changer; it’s as much about handling and balance as it is about power; competent, character; protection; focus; 1st place; value unused = waste; exploring options.
M: Win over even your toughest critic; a better tomorrow; relieve pain; America’s national security; secure; take fun seriously; legacy.
As we moved on to writing mission statements, I reviewed everything we’d done so far throughout the class, and the mission statement I had previously drafted seemed to encompass everything I’d identified so far. I’m still considering making slight alterations to the verbiage, but as of now have made no changes. I shared my draft mission statement with H last night and he said, “Good job”. I’m not sure what I was hoping for/fearing his response would be, but I was left feeling a bit disappointed. Regardless, he didn’t tear me down in any way so for now I’m not going to concern myself with the origin of that odd feeling. I shared this draft with a partner in my class, and she did not have any feedback other than how much she liked it – appreciated, but not overly helpful. I also tried to share it with MCF yesterday, but our schedules weren’t syncing up. Hopefully I will be able to see him next week and share it; I think good, bad or otherwise his feedback will go a long way towards me reaching a finalized (for now) version of my mission statement. It of course will likely change over time as the years go by and my circumstances alter, but for the near future I want to feel that I’ve settled on something to which I can work on holding myself accountable.