By Michael Kline
I often write about the importance of goal setting and referring back to our goals as we make life and work decisions. To have worthwhile goals, I mean really, really worthwhile goals to get you through tough times and add meaning and value to your life and the lives of those you care about most, requires more than a cursory review of the extrinsic checklist of houses, cars, money and retirement experiences. For the more motivational, meaningful, intrinsic goals that will matter in the end, you may need to step back from time to time and connect with something larger and outside of day to day life. Some find this connection
through prayer, meditation, exercise, travel, being in nature, or all of the above. Making such a connection, and investing in this exploration of ourselves can help us know ourselves better. It's not likely that we will set, or more
accurately discover, lasting life goals until we know ourselves better.
I've come to realize that the more a person thinks he knows himself, the less likely it is that he knows very much at all. The wisdom I slowly gain as I age, tells me that to learn something, you must first admit that you don't know something. It’s funny how the more we know, the less we know.
I've been traveling on an extended tour of our National Parks out west. The plan was to see our country and learn more about it, but I seem to be learning as much about myself as anything else. I feel like a stranger, getting to know myself just as I get to know our traveling companions, most of whom are Australians, visiting the US for the first time, which seems to aid in our ability to look at ourselves and our country with curious eyes. These travels have been educational, inspiring, fascinating and emotional. I am filled with gratitude for being born in such a fortunate place at such a fortunate time, with such an abundance of resources.
When faced with the overwhelming beauty of Zion National Park, or the overwhelming waste and excess of Las Vegas, or the site of tragedy and loss at a historic battlefield, it is easy to feel inspired about what is important in life. This trip holds many lessons. Today, I am contemplating this article as we ride across Montana and Wyoming, having just left the battlefield of Little Bighorn, better known as Custer's Last Stand. This is a special place, where it is said the ghosts of the fallen can be seen in broad daylight. I'm pretty sure I felt the presence of those spirits as I wept over the graves and at the weeping wall of the Indian Memorial. I'm not sure if it's maturity, wisdom, or spiritual connection that is making me more emotional as I get older, but I felt a little stronger and a little weaker at the same time, experiencing the 136 year old heartbreak of Little Bighorn and taking it personally. Contemplating the immeasurable loss we as a nation continue to inflict, and have inflicted upon us, makes me think we will never learn our lessons until every man, woman and child takes it personally and feels the pain of our fellow human beings.
How does this connect with business? I thought you would never ask! Does world peace sound important? Does protecting the environment or helping people build a better life seem like a good idea? Do you have greatness in you? Does the work you do contribute positively in any way to things that are important to you? I say yes, yes, yes, and yes, and I bet you do too! Maybe we are not working at the front lines to save the world, but maybe you will one
day. In the meantime, perhaps you work in retail or hospitality or healthcare or education. Do the experiences, services and products we deliver contribute to the happiness, growth, prosperity, safety or well-being of our customers? I bet it does. Does our work at least support us while we explore bigger and better things for our future? If you aren’t lucky enough to call your work your passion, it should at least bring value to other humans, and be contributing something toward your goals, even if only paying the bills while you discover your goals.
For me, the last few weeks have been a study in contrasts. Since finishing our work on the Be Kind Fest, we've been traveling and being inspired daily. Sometimes this inspiration comes from positive experiences and sometimes from negative people. All of these experiences are gifts that contribute to the discovery of subjects that are important to me and some that are not important. When I get home, it will be my task to slowly go to work removing things from my life that no longer serve my purpose, and to expand the areas of my life that support a greater vision for the next phase of life. Here we go again with the goal setting.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.