Determining Meaning and Shaping Legacy
While adaptability and flexibility are crucial to survive whitewater, direction and purpose give meaning to our lives.
In a whitewater environment, your meaning and legacy might not come from the position you hold in a company. The position or the company might not exist tomorrow. You determine your own mythology, write your own story, and shape your own legacy.
Find your mantra, a word or group of words which you can repeat over and over to provide you with meaning. What matters most to you? Why are you working? What is your purpose in this career? If you leave your job tomorrow, what would have made all the hard work, frustration, wear and tear, worthwhile?
When you get up each morning and prepare to reenter the rapids, what do you say to yourself about why you are doing so? What gives your effort meaning to you? The froth and frenzy of the river engulf the aimless.
Meaning comes from being aware of what you can do in your chosen situation. What do you hope that your efforts wield yield the company, your people, your customers, or your community? If you are working with the goal that you are supporting your family, that you want to provide the best for them, then your mantra could be, “They will not want.”
Your purpose, your direction, will bring meaning to your actions and will guide you down the river. Purpose will help you to find and hold a good line. Your focus will clarify your direction and allow you to work more purposefully, and more successfully.
Your flexibility and adaptability have brought you this far, remind yourself of your purpose in order to maintain your direction. Keep your bearings by infusing meaning into your actions. Floating downstream amidst the relentless cross-currents of a permanent white water world means being buffeted about without purpose. Traveling without purpose increases the likelihood of getting lost and if you’re lost, then so are those who depend upon you for direction. Identify your purpose and keep it close at hand. (For more on shaping your legacy, see Chapter 7 in Your Job Survival Guide.)