Sunday, May 14, 2023

Greatness as a Mission-Driven Life

A heroic life is one driven by a noble purpose, an all-absorbing sense of mission.  Past posts have asked the question, "What is the Path to Your Greatness?" and explored what makes for greatness in life and trading.  When we think of life's heroines and heroes, we inevitably focus on people whose lives have been devoted to a noble purpose and who have persisted in the face of challenge to accomplish things that make the world better.  Not all obsessions are paths to greatness--plenty of traders become obsessed with the ups and downs of markets but never invest in the skills, tools, and processes that would build their mastery.  It is difficult to imagine a great life, however, that does not have an overarching sense of mission that becomes a singular focus and theme.  A great life cannot be lived randomly or comfortably.  It has to be mission-driven, in which activity is organized around constructive purposes and challenges.

As Ayn Rand pointed out, we can forgive many people and their shortcomings, but "not those who lack the courage of their own greatness".  It is difficult to imagine a betrayal greater than avoiding who we are and what we can become.  For many of us, greatness seems to be a bridge too far.  The solution-focus in psychology offers a very different perspective.  It tells us that the answer to our challenges is not simply to fix our problems.  Rather, we need to identify what we are currently doing--even in small measure--to be the person we seek to become.  Greatness consists of doing more and more of what we are already doing when we are at our best.  In the talents and passions we experience in the present, we can identify our future:  our missions and our paths to greatness.  

The first step toward a mission-driven life is to live an hour and then a morning, and then a day absorbed in a purpose that speaks to us and gives us energy.  We know we are on the path of our mission when we achieve the peak states described by Maslow in which we are fully absorbed in what we're doing.  Those flow states are ones in which we find our greatest creativity and productivity.  For many of us, those moments of flow are all too few and fleeting--but they *do* occur.  Our challenge is to identify what we're doing when we're most passionate and turn those peak moments into an enduring sense of mission.  Once we recognize that greatness is not an end point, but rather a process for living life, our mission becomes clear:  to live each day meaningfully, purposefully, and creatively in pursuit of a quest worthy of our greatest efforts.

Further Reading:

Blueprint for an Uncompromised Life:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three