“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: I shall not fear anyone on earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
I am fascinated with Groot. Groot is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. An extraterrestrial, sentient tree-like creature, Groot originally appeared as an invader that intended to capture humans for experimentation. The character was reintroduced as a heroic, noble being in 2006 and went on to star in the movie series, Guardians of the Galaxy, joining the team of the same name. In the movie, “I Am Groot” is the only phrase that strong-yet-sweet Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is capable of saying. (Wikipedia)
Why am I so drawn to Groot? Before I retired, I was often asked to coach mid and upper level managers – primarily in the government and non-profit sectors. At the beginning of a coaching relationship, I almost always asked my clients to write a personal mission statement. If you’ve never done one, or yours is sounding outdated, retirement is an ideal time to redefine who you are and what you want your life to be about. Groot embodies this idea – what could be a more powerful mission statement than “I am Groot?” He doesn’t have much to say but his dramatic actions and subtle vocal inflections communicate values that resonate with my own – love for nature, loyalty to his friends, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. I love Groot for his sweet, yet powerful emotions and his gestures of endearing protectiveness. Later in this post, I’ll suggest some steps for creating your own mission statement.
In Guardians of the Galaxy, when Ronan’s ship explodes and begins to crash, Groot doesn’t hesitate to wrap his branches around his friends to create a protective embrace, even though this action will certainly result in his own death. “Why are you doing this?!” Rocket cries, confused. “You’ll die, Groot!” Nonetheless, Groot is determined to protect his friends, saying calmly, with assuredness, “We are Groot.” (http://comicsalliance.com/guardians-galaxy-psychology-analyisis-trauma/)
We ARE Groot. Buddhism teaches that all life is interrelated. Through the concept of “dependent origination,” it holds that nothing exists in isolation, independent of other life. All beings and phenomena exist or occur only because of their relationship with other beings or phenomena. When we realize the extent of the various interconnections which link us to all other life, we realize that our existence only becomes meaningful through interaction with, and in relation to, others. By engaging ourselves with others, our identity is developed, established and enhanced. (http://www.sgi.org/about-us/buddhism-in-daily-life/interconnectedness.html)
As a tree-like character, Groot brings to mind values related to nature and environmentalism. However, our essential interrelationships can be nurtured in any number of activities. I am excited about a new activity awaiting me in 2017. I will be serving on the Maryland Citizen’s Review Board for Children (CRBC) for my county. In this new volunteer role, I will be a member of the team reviewing foster care placements for children. I also plan to start volunteering at our local hospital. Both of these new activities will help me carry out my own personal mission statement, based on my values of mindfulness, compassion, and community involvement.
I wrote a personal mission statement with my own coach almost 20 years ago. At that time my life looked very different than it does now. When I retired I decided to revisit my values and goals, with a new retirement lifestyle based on mindfulness. My new mission statement guides me in my everyday choices for how I want to approach my activities, relationships and even my attitudes.
Do you think it’s time for you to write a personal mission statement? Below are some guidelines to help you to get started. I’d love to hear what you come up with!
Steps Toward Personal Mission Statement Development
Step 1: Identify Past Successes. Spend some time identifying four or five examples where you have had personal success in recent years. These successes could be at work, in your community, at home, etc. Write them down.
Try to identify whether there is a common theme — or themes — to these examples. Write them down.
Step 2: Identify Core Values. Develop a list of attributes that you believe identify who you are and what your priorities are. The list can be as long as you need.
Once your list is complete, see if you can narrow your values to five or six most important values.
Finally, see if you can choose the one value that is most important to you.
Step 3: Identify Contributions. Make a list of the ways you could make a difference. In an ideal situation, how could you contribute best to:’
- the world in general
- your family
- your employer or future employers
- your friends
- your community
Step 4: Identify Goals. Spend some time thinking about your priorities in life and the goals you have for yourself.
Make a list of your personal goals, perhaps in the short-term (up to three years) and the long-term (beyond three years).
Step 5: Write Mission Statement. Based on the first four steps and a better understanding of yourself, begin writing your personal mission statement.
My personal mission statement is:
To live life mindfully, honestly, and compassionately, with a healthy dose of effort balanced with relaxation to fully embrace my happiness in pursuing interrelationships with people and nature.
WE ARE GROOT!