Bringing vision to reality at the YNPN DC Conference

May 26, 2010 by

Flickr photo from edkrauser

The second session I attended at the YNPN DC 2010 conference was titled “From Vision to Reality: Personal Effectiveness in Professional Life” featuring personal coach Atieno Bird. She was great and the session was probably the most helpful for me in terms of honing in on some short-term goals.

The objectives of the session (from Atieno’s presentation) included:

  • empowering yourself through identifying your strengths
  • articulating a clear vision of where you are headed
  • leaving with a simple doable action plan you can start on immediately
  • practicing communicating your professional mission statement and brand

The first thing we did was introduce ourselves to someone else from the perspective of our biggest fan. The exercise was supposed to help us to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses. My dear friend Candice and I actually attended this session together and we paired up for this exercise. We adopted the persona’s of our mothers and introduced ourselves to each other.

The exercise turned out to be harder than I thought. Giving up those weaknesses and insecurities when introducing oneself (even if you have a big ego and a big mouth like me) is difficult.

The next exercise was to write a ‘magic-wand’ paragraph looking into the future 10 and then 30 years. We had to talk about where we would be, what we’d be doing, how we’d be feeling and in what way we’d be making the world better for people. The idea was to write quickly, without thinking about it too much in order to hopefully get to the heart of what we really want. In the spirit of transparency and openness, here are my paragraphs:

10 years – I wake up in my beautiful town house looking forward to another day running the organizing and advocacy work at my nonprofit job. I have breakfast with Dan and head out the door to my office downtown ready for meetings, planning and executing my campaign. I’m advancing women’s rights through my current campaign. I feel driven, productive and focused because I’m fulfilling my purpose, which is to make the world better for women everywhere.

30 years – I wake up in the morning looking forward to another sunny, beautiful day in the Caribbean. I get ready with Dan and head into our restaurant/bar to get ready for a day of entertaining tourists and ex-pats. I begin cleaning up, prepping food and making sure everything is comfortable. I am feeling happy and relaxed because I am fulfilling my purpose, which is to make other people relaxed and happy, one at a time.

My conclusion after this exercise: Retirement is looking good! 🙂

My retirement (Courtesy of Flickr user dLux.hu)

Another exercise that was helpful for me was to create an “imperfect” mission statement – again, quickly and without thinking about it too much. This mission statement was supposed to look about 5 years into the future and focus strongly on activities and strengths.

Here’s mine: Within the next 5 years, I would like to get American citizens more engaged in their democracy by leading the organizing and advocacy department of a major national nonprofit organization, using my abilities to strategically plan, identify innovative advocacy techniques and building partnerships across different organizations.

Both the mission statement and the magic wand statements helped confirmed that where I’m headed is where I actually want to be. I was reassured by that, because I’ve been questioning it for the past few months.

I tend to go in phases in my own professional development: I get really into it and attend events, sign up for classes and work on networking and making connections. And then, once I feel comfortable at a job or I get tired or overwhelmed, I stop actively pursuing it until something sparks me. At that point I repeat the cycle all over again.

My next steps from this session include continuing my own development by working on my mission statement, asking for help from others (which was one of Atieno’s biggest tips) and looking for opportunities to make my mission statement become reality.

I’d love to see YOUR ‘magic wand’ paragraph and mission statement. Care to share them in the comments?

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  • Dante Curmon

    Nice blog.