Showing Up

Bob Jones at age 70

by Bob Jones

This article is the third in a series. If you haven’t read “Waking Up” and “Growing Up” I would suggest that you take the time to do so. They provide the background that leads up to this piece. This article is about how to show up fully engaged with your life, and as in my earlier articles I will start with my own life. I turned 70 last July and found myself staring my mortality in the face. I am entering a stage in life that many consider as barely removed from death, but I wouldn’t trade this time of my life for eternal youth. I am more engaged with life, maturity and elderhood than at anytime before this. I am excited to be giving back to the world. This entire website is part of that gift to you and one of the ways I choose to show up in my community and in my life. I can envision many hundreds of hours of my time adding, refining and editing content to this site. I am living my mission:
My mission is to deepen authentic connection in my world by teaching conscious, courageous and compassionate transformation.
My mission is my touchstone, my guiding star. What this means to me is both outreach through teaching and mentoring, and balancing my life. I can be the warrior elder, but I also want to be a loving grandfather, father and husband. And above all, I want to show up simply as the man I am rather than some iconic image of what I want you to think I am. My mission contains both vision and action. My vision is to “deepen authentic connection in my world“, i.e., the world I can personally impact. The action is “teaching conscious, courageous and compassionate transformation“. This serves to remind me that I am a teacher now, no longer a computer programmer or even a coach. My focus is on teaching. The remaining words, “conscious, courageous and compassionate” are some of the values I want to bring to how I teach. Whenever I find myself straying from my path, I have my mission to bring me back. Every word of this mission statement has precise meaning to me and I have spent many years growing it and evolving it into its present form. My mission statement speaks in broad strokes about how I want to show up in my life and the accumulation of all my experiences of showing up will be the wake I leave behind me… my legacy. For me, showing up is not about radically transforming my life. Hopefully, you have already started your wake up and grow up work, and that is where the deep transformation happens. But you don’t have to finish growing up before you can start showing up. In fact, I don’t think we can ever stop waking up and growing up, so the only question is when is it time to step outside our comfort zone and start showing up in a way that matters deeply.
Two questions:
  1. Where do you want your life to go? What is your vision for your life? This isn’t about material goals. The question is about what type of person you want to be remembered as.
  2. What might get in the way of your living that vision?

Vision

Do you have a clear vision for what drives and motivates you? In 1991, I attended a series of trainings from the Context organization. One of the exercises was to produce our Definition of Success and our Core Values. This exercise required me to take a values-based approach to defining my vision. Now, over 25 years later, these values still resonate with me. This was an effective exercise for me, but it is time for an update; so I have done a deep dive into the question of how do I clarify and define my own sense of purpose.First, though, I want to take a look at the differences between virtues and values. My research surfaced two basic strategies: values-based or virtues-based; but what is the difference between a value and a virtue? Here are some basic definitions:
Values are principles or standards that I consider to be important or desirable. Virtues are qualities that are considered to be good or desirable in a person.

Values

Values are often quite subjective. Values are what you and I consider to be important in our lives.; however your values may be quite different from mine. One my highest values is autonomy. It is very important to me that I am the boss of my own time. I am willing to give up the apparent security of a job in order to keep my autonomy. A person’s values can be based on many elements such as ethnicity, family background, religious beliefs and even personal experience.

Virtues

Virtues are qualities that are considered to be good or desirable in a person. Virtues have a strong moral component. A highly moral person may have and demonstrate virtues like honesty, accountability, compassion, courage and patience. I suspect (without any real proof) that almost all virtues are also values, but not all values are virtues, as shown in this Venn diagram. For example, although I value autonomy highly, it is not necessarily a virtue. I am not an expert here, so you are free to disagree. Ultimately all I care about is that you cultivate an awareness of the virtues and values that are important to you. How aware are you of the values that are really important to you? Take a moment without any further thought and write down a handful of values and another short list of virtues. We will come back to this in a few moments.
See the New World Encyclopedia for an excellent discussion of the concept of Virtue. My resources page also has several articles on Values and Virtues including a list of values and another list of virtues. Neither of these lists is exhaustive. Having looked at these lists, are there any you would like to add to your life? Were there any surprises?

Purpose

So what does all of this have to do with purpose, vision and connection? Our values (whether virtuous or not) give us our sense of purpose. When we are aligned with our values, life works better. We tend to have more energy and we feel more fulfilled because we are basing our actions on what we deeply value. Given this, it may serve us well to have a clear statement of purpose which we can use as a touchstone, our own personal North Star to guide when life gets muddy and confusing. There are two lenses through which we can view a sense of purpose:
  1. Internal – how do we bring a sense of purpose into our own lives?
  2. External – how do we empower others with a sense of purpose?
Here are a few more questions for you to ponder:
  • What lights you up and brings you passion?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What brings you deeper connection with yourself?
  • What gifts do you bring to others?
  • How do you bring joy to others?
  • How do you deepen connection with others?

Building a Statement of Purpose

Start by writing down your answers to the above questions by associating one or more values with each question. There is a list of values on the resources page. Scan through this list and write down the values that resonate with you for each question. Which values show up over and over? Which values show up only once?

Looking Back…

Now let’s take a side trip into the future. Visualize yourself close to the end of your life. Assume that you have lived your life with a clear sense of purpose. Looking back over the span of your life, what do you see? What is the most meaningful impact you have had? What does this suggest about your purpose in life? Summarize what you see in a couple words like, “Loving Father” or “Wise Teacher”. These words may appear as your epitaph on your tomb stone. We can call this your “vision” or perhaps this may point to your calling in life, or something you want to co-create?

Purpose Statement

A Purpose Statement looks something like this: My purpose is to [vision] by living with [value 1] [value 2]… Here is mine written in that form: My purpose is to [deepen authentic connection in my world] by [teaching conscious, courageous and compassionate transformation].
To create your statement, take the values list you produced and prioritize it. Then take the top few values and combine them with your vision to make a sentence out of them. Feel free to modify the prescribed form as necessary. Write your statement over and over, letting it evolve whenever it wants. Now speak it out loud and notice how you feel about it. Does it scare you? Do you resonate with it? Does it let people see the kind of person you want to be? Keep rewriting it until it stops changing and you can speak it with clarity and power. Now find someone you trust. Let them know that you are crafting your own statement of purpose. This may require your becoming very open and vulnerable with this person. The more open you are willing to get, the better this is going to work because this statement must resonate with you to your very core.

Purpose vs. Mission

Some of you may be asking, “What is the difference between a statement of purpose and a mission statement?” That depends. If you take my Mission Statement apart, you will see that it is full of values like authenticity, connection, teaching, compassion, consciousness , courageousness and transformation. For me, my mission is my statement of purpose, but that may not be true for you. The Purpose is the big target. Mission can be the strategy for hitting that target.

Connecting the Dots

In my Waking Up article, we discussed spiritual awakening and some practices you can include in your life that will help you become more self-aware. In my Growing Up article, we explored the things that help us develop emotional maturity and what gets in our way. In this article, we have looked at vision, values and purpose. I want to connect all of these topics in one final discussion about perseverance which I see as the essential element of this work.

Perseverance

Without perseverance, real growth cannot happen. Perseverance is the glue that holds this work together. Without perseverance, I have only moments of being awake, only passing experiences of connecting deeply, and little chance at all of leaving a lasting impact on the world. Spiritual awakening may have singular aha moments like Eckhart Tolle’s awakening one moment on a park bench, but most awakening processes are slow and painful, as Stephen Levine points out in his wonderful book, “A Gradual Awakening.” In the mid 1990’s, I attended a gathering of a bunch of personal growth teachers in San Francisco. There was one particular teacher I deeply admired. I had worked hard to develop my skills so I could assist him in his teaching. I asked him, “Can I join your team now?” His answer was clear and direct. “Jones, I don’t know anybody who has worked harder at this stuff than you and still doesn’t get it.” I felt like I had been gut punched, but he was right. It has taken me many more years of work and now, I don’t even have to ask the question. I know the answer. Brene Brown in one of her wonderful talks on vulnerability and shame mentions Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech which describes perseverance in very powerful words.

THE MAN IN THE ARENA

by Theodore Roosevelt Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

My hope for each of you is that you become the “person” in the arena, striving to continuously deepen who you are and how you connect. Please let me know how these writings have impacted you. Share your magnificence!

About Me

I have been an analytical, left-brained computer programmer for over 50 years. 25 years ago I discovered that I had a heart that was much smarter than my brain. I started by studying Gestalt and in the years since have become very active in men’s work. After attending the Mankind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure in 2001. Since that time I have helped initiate over 1,000 men into a more mature form of adult manhood. I have been married to my partner for over 40 years and have raised three children. Although we suffered through many growing pains, my wife and I are very close to each other and to each of our children. After attending just about every training that I could find, I started developing my own training about two years ago. The ConneXions Intensive Workshop is the ever-evolving result of my cumulative life experience.

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