May 1, 2017

The Mundane Middle

Our organization just finished our second annual “One Conference” where the teams from all the different programs of our foundation come together to connect with one another, hear updates from the year, and encourage one another toward personal development.

It is also a time of vision casting for the coming year.

At last year’s conference, we focused on our foundation’s heritage. Where we came from, our founder’s story, our values – the things we want to preserve, the things we hold deeply valuable.

For this year’s conference, we shifted our focus to legacy—looking to our future.

When one thinks of the future, the word “vision” is not far behind. In fact, Andy Stanley defines vision as a picture of a desired future—something that is directional, but not definitive; a beautiful painting opposed to a detailed diagram. As an organization looking toward our future, we are currently working on master sketches or studies, exploring where we want to go. Our painting is not yet complete, but we have a good idea of how we want it to look. At our conference, we had the opportunity to hear from our directors as they shared their sketches. What a great opportunity to glimpse into their hearts and feel what they feel. The big motivation, however, was how we as individual contributors fit in.

In one of our last sessions, we were instructed to envision ourselves at our 90th birthday party with guests from throughout our lifetimes –family, friends, and co-workers. We were then instructed to write down the name of one person from each category, along with what we would hope they would say about us if they were invited to give a speech at our celebration event. This was tough for me; but I chose my three people and began writing. I wrote how I hoped they would say I was reliable and loyal, ready to help them out at a moment’s notice, someone they enjoyed spending time with, a person willing to try new things and have adventures with them, and a true support to them through thick and thin. Then this question was asked: “What are you doing today that will make those words true?” I hope that what I’m doing now would result in the comments I’d love to have said of me in the future, but if I’m honest, I haven’t really been intentional about ensuring that this would be the case.

On the heels of this exercise, it became clear to me that our personal legacies and our organizational legacies are intertwined. I put my whole self into my work, as I’m sure you do. I influence the outcome with my decisions, direction, and attitude every day. Each moment is a paint stroke on our organizational vision’s painting. Legacies aren’t built on the first day or the last; they are built in the mundane middle by individuals doing the day-in-and-day-out work of the organization. We have an opportunity to be purposeful with each middle moment. We need to be intentional about what we do and how we do things. What a responsibility we have to contribute to the legacy of our work.

I encourage you to employ the 90th Birthday exercise with your team and/or organization. Determine what you want people to say about you and your team’s or organization’s work in 5, 10, 50, and 100 years. Then ask yourselves what you are doing today that will make those words true.

Your middle will determine your legacy.

By Ricky Escobar

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