I heard the saying, “lash yourself to the mast” recently.  Not something we typically think about in this day of jets and teleportation…  (Ok, we don’t have that yet, but I’m sure it’s coming…)

OneDictionary says it means, “To continue in a course of action even when facing great difficulties and likely disaster. To resist the temptation to make a bad choice.”  It apparently came from Odysseus (in Homer’s Odyssey), where he ordered his men to literally lash him to the ship’s mast so he wouldn’t succumb to the temptation of the Sirens.

(The story depicted on an ancient vase…)


But it got me thinking – for me, what is the Siren’s call?  Easy:  $.  (Or Euro, Pounds, Rubles, and so on.)

It begs the question, “What is the course of action I want to continue on?”

Well, I wrote about money, and how it won’t buy happiness, a while back.  I heard a podcast recently that was more specific – money can reduce unhappiness to a point…

So, if money is not a course of action I’d lash myself to the last for, what is?

Enjoyment, contentedness, meaning

Why?!  Well, these things are fulfilling.  My opinion?  It’s what we were designed for.

My foremost position, my primary topic for podcasts and speaking, is this:

Measure your Mission

If you haven’t heard me talk about this phrase before, it comes down to this:  Peter Drucker, leadership guru, is attributed with (many variations of) “What gets measured gets done.”  He meant it as a little bit of a dig on managers who measure employee performance on # of widgets per hour, and don’t understand why quality goes through the floor when employees speed up to produce more.  There are countless other examples how mismeasurement results in unintended consequences.  

“Measure Your Mission” takes this concept and applies it to your mission, vision, purpose.  This works for companies (which is the focus of my consulting business) and individuals.

For me, personally, my (ineloquently worded) mission is to leave people and places better than they were before.

Tying a measurement or metric to my mission is a way of lashing myself to the mast.  It narrows my focus onto what’s important, rather than just the default, $.  (As a side note, I believe being smart about money is important.  No margin, no mission.  In personal life too – if you can’t pay your bills, it’s hard to focus on the most important things.)

I’m not perfect about this.  Here’s a great example:

One of my other businesses is real estate investing.  Sure, real estate is considered a great financial investment, but I always try to make it something more than money.  My wife’s good about this, too.

So, yesterday, when she was taking me on a video tour of three investment houses we just purchased – neglected, tired, overgrown – my thoughts were on the work required, the cost, and the revenue.  (Have to do those right, or these could be the last investment houses we ever do.)

But she said to me, in her loving way, “And we’ll be taking these empty structures and providing homes for people/families who need them.”

Measuring the mission:  When these 3 homes are done and sold, we’ll be +3 in providing homes to families.

How will you measure your mission?

(I work with mission-driven companies and organizations to help them remove barriers to scaling their companies and increase their impact.  If you’re a leader in one of these organizations, message me – I’d love to strategize with you about how Questful can help.)

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