Finding Your Mission


The opinions on how you should start your day for “maximum results” and “increased productivity” are vast and varied. . . some may even be helpful. Whether the advice is “avoid the snooze” or “drink water right away” it can be hard to sift through all the recommendations to find one that really makes an impact. . . for you. So, we’ll keep it simple and suggest something we’ve offered and observed has an impact with the hundreds of people who have come through our programs: Tomorrow, start your day with an intention (Source: Huffington Post) – and end your day with a reflection. Lately, we have been asking participants in Crain’s Academy and other F5 leadership programs about journaling: Do you do it? Have you ever done it? And who cares? Astoundingly few do. And most aren’t sure why it matters. Well, it matters – to your ability to be successful and move forward (Source: Harvard Business Review). You are the most important research project of your life, so knowing what your intention is and reflecting on how you lived it out day to day gives you a lot of data to pull from to make better career and life decisions. So what is an intention and how is it different (Source: TED* Works!) than your goals?   It’s present focused (today) versus future-focused It’s a lived experience versus a destination It’s internally driven, versus externally If you begin with an intention you can reflect at the end of the day how you lived it out. If you wanted to “Remain open, flexible and kind with all people” or “Stay in learning and avoid judging” and you felt you didn’t live it out, don’t be too hard on yourself. Living out an intention takes a lot of practice and in research, sometimes experiments fail. Involve community in your intention setting and increase your chances of “coming back to center,” making better decisions and being more successful throughout the day. The Collective and Crain’s Academy are great communities to join as you conduct your...

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It’s become a month of visioning within our community, from our current Collective small group to our large group experiences, folks are ready to stop “just plowing ahead” and want to find an intentional and guided path forward on their career journey. And we love it. If you’ve been around these parts long enough, you know that Flank 5 Academy is all about starting with self-awareness as a way to get to a vision, an ideal future, a way of working that is aligned with who you are – the stuff that yields that juicy long-term happiness (hint: you’ve got to have a higher purpose) versus the pleasure-inducing short-lived happiness (quick hits of success, accolades or experiences) But it’s not enough to be self-aware – and while journaling is a great place to start – the real clarity comes from sharing what you learn about your core ideology and your ideal future with others. Chade-Meng Tau, Google engineer, self-described Jolly Good Fellow and co-founder of Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute agrees: “Values and higher purpose are fairly abstract topics and the act of verbalizing them forces us to make them clearer and more tangible to ourselves.” Getting clear is critical. To get started on your own vision, we invite you to start with a method Tau offers in his (charming and incredibly accessible) book, Search Inside Yourself. Start with the question, “What do I stand for?” What are those core values that drive you – that motivate you – that are non-negotiable in your work? Make a list. Check it twice, and check it against your activities day to day. If you value justice, how are you exhibiting this value on an average Tuesday? And if you’re not, would you like to? How could you take it upon yourself to introduce it into your orbit? Stanford’s Graduate School of Business offers great worksheets to take this a step further too.   Once you’ve done some cataloguing, why not ask others – then – “What do I stand for?” See if there’s alignment – see if there’s something you might be missing, or if you’ve got too much on your list (a list of six is easier than a list of three). Share what you’ve come up with – and what ideas may spark as a result of sharing. Once you’ve done this, you’re on your way to your ideal future (disclaimer: one with a higher purpose, not one where you’re happy all the...

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Last night, CEO Emily Drake got the opportunity to be a “dish” at Chicago’s infamous Idea Potluck monthly series, curated and hosted by Mac & Cheese Productions. From their web site: “Idea Potluck is about ideas rather than food, bringing together a diverse array of pre-selected people who each get six minutes to share whatever they’d like to share. As an audience member, you sit back, absorb, and enjoy! You DO NOT present. Relaxed, fun way to meet others, learn, and be entertained.” So many people in the Flank 5 Academy orbit are looking for community in the career, or as leaders – as high-achievers redefining success. We’re passionate about that pursuit and asking the tough questions.  Click above to hear Emily’s share, where she asks: “What have you always wanted? Give yourself the gift – whatever it is. What are you waiting for?” Emily’s answer looks something like this, and arrives in time for Halloween: We often procrastinate that which does not have a deadline – and that which we want most. Because it’s big – on risk and possibility. So that you’ve always wanted something and don’t have it is OK, and it may be just there on the other side of fear. If you want to get inspired and meet incredibly cool people, register here to attend the last Idea Potluck of the year on October...

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One of our favorite podcasts is The Accidental Creative, hosted by author Todd Henry and billed as sharing how to “build practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work.” (Prolific is a great word.) One of Todd’s recent AC episodes offers a way to tell Your Time Story and starts with the question, “What’s your relationship to time?” We are willing to bet it’s one of three answers: + I don’t have enough of it. + I don’t have enough of it and I don’t use it wisely. + I don’t have enough of it, I don’t use it wisely, and I feel lousy about that. Do you have another comma you would add? Of course, other than money – the most popular “why I can’t” answer when we talk about hopes and dreams in our career and leadership programs – time is the asset we’re all tortured by and don’t have enough of. But, as we think of our “body of work” versus the next job; our legacy versus our year-end numbers; are we running out of time as fast as we think? Part of what Todd posits is that we aren’t, and instead we are suffering from “being increasing efficient at doing decreasingly effective things.” Let that sink in. We have plenty of time, but we are wasting it (see #2). A TED Talk we fell in love with earlier this year, Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, offered a similar lens: that humans put off that which isn’t deadline-driven and, in fact, those things are probably the most important: the skill you’ve been hoping (or needing) to build, the relationships you haven’t tended to, the stuff that creates excellence and expertise – and becomes what you are known for. Instead, we fall victim to the “ping” as Todd calls it – the experience that we should be doing something other than we’re doing. We should be working, instead of taking time off to restore (and data proves why we need this – NEED not want). We should really check our Twitter feed or see if any email came in since we last checked five minutes ago. We hear a lot of leaders praising themselves for being able to focus on a lot of things. And we hear a lot of leaders lamenting that they aren’t expert in anything. The trade-off Todd states, and the urgency around paying attention to those long-term investments like skills and relationships, is we either: + Live out our career calling + Live out our career compromising We choose calling.  Let’s all choose...

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This is the first in a three-part series we’ve curated on Personal Advisory Boards, a meaningful conversation point within the Flank 5 Collective over the past month.  We’ll answer “what is it?” first, then provide a strategy for how to choose your board members and, finally, “make the ask” and formalize the relationship for powerful, career moving engagement and response. Your advisory board is different than your network, though often confused. When done effectively, it’s formalized, intentional, and intended to yield deep, impactful relationships that service your career journey. Encouragement is a byproduct; strategy and seasoned advice are the focal point. Because of this, members likely aren’t your friends or family. Emily talked about this on a recent episode of Idea Lemon‘s Discover Your Inner Awesome podcast. Watch Part 2: Choosing Your Board Members Watch Part 3: Making the...

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Starting is hard (and “re-starting” is even harder). There’s good news, though! Chances are, if you want change in your life – in career, relationships, financial freedom – you’ve ALREADY started. What you’re not doing is noticing, documenting and then sharing your progress. And doing all three is incredibly powerful for having the courage to not just start the change but make the change. As Flank 5 Academy alumna Dr. Erica Bauer recently shared: Today’s Q&A answers the question, “Where do I start?” – in both high- and low-tech ways – when you know you want to...

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