Why every man needs a mission: How to get focused, recharged and back on the front-lines

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I don't talk about this much, and have really only spoken of it once or twice.

When I got out of the military in 2005 it was very difficult for me to adapt back in to civilian life, and to this day I still struggle.

I couldn't find a job for months, and the skills that I had gained were of no value to most employers. They didn't care that I had served my country, or that I had made E-5 in 4 years. They didn't care about my good conduct medals, or that I had supervised a watch center or strike intelligence analysis cell.

My skills and knowledge were overlooked.

Maybe it was me. 

Maybe, I didn't talk myself up enough or brag about everything I had done. That just isn't my style. Most veterans and military men are the same way. We understand what we did was because we wanted to. We gladly served, and would do it again.



I believe that I was made for the military. I was in need of it before I even knew it.

During boot-camp, I thrived. I smiled, laughed, and believe to this day that it was that moment in my life where I felt fully alive and was doing what I was made for.

I had a mission, a reason to fight, and a cause worth fighting for.

I have that now in the form of a family, but it's different. I love my wife and kids and would do anything for them, but the battle I'm fighting now is misplaced. It's not what it once was.

Not exactly what I had envisioned for my life.

Maybe you are in the same position as me. You work at a job you don't like for reasons you don't like, doing things you don't want to do, to earn a paycheck that hardly seems worth it.

I'm not trying to be apathetic, but realistic. I am thankful for my job, but it doesn't make my engine fire on all cylinders.

It's because there is no cause worth fighting for. The mission doesn't align with my values or my goals.

What is a man to do when the fire has burned out, the mission has been skewed or become obsolete?

It's Time to Find a New Mission

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You might be realizing it now...that the mission isn't what it once was, or that it has been complete.

If you are like I was and am right now, the question you are asking is...Now what?

The answer is, now it's time to find a new mission.

Even if you weren't in the military, it doesn't matter, this plagues all men. You still need to find a mission.

In his bestselling book "Wild at Heart" John Eldredge says that all men need three things:

  • A battle to fight
  • A beauty to rescue
  • An adventure to live

More than likely you and I have lost one or all of these somewhere along the way. 

If you find yourself in this position...without discipline, focus, or a battle to fight, then it is time to start digging in. There are a lot of missions that no one is on that are made just for you.

The 4  RE's:

  • Re-Evaluate
  • Re-target
  • Re-Focus
  • Re-Engage

Let's go through them one by one and break them down.

RE-EVALUATE

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Right now you are probably trying to figure out where you went wrong, what happened and how you got to where you are at.

Mission-less in Seattle.

This is where you have to start reflecting and asking yourself some questions:

  • What bothers me, irritates me or bugs me?
  • What can I do to make something better?
  • What are the things or one thing that I can lose myself in, and still help others?
  • What are my natural gifts talents and Abilities?

What Bothers you?

Certainly something bothers you or makes you cringe. For me it's seeing people (Especially men) waste their lives, abilities and talents. I want to help men be the men they were made to be. 

Why? Because I wasted my life, and threw it away on meaningless and trivial things. My relationships suffered, bridges were burned and I have nothing to show for it, but a lot of experience in what not to do. I use that hard earned wisdom to help others.

Maybe for you it's the same thing. Maybe it's watching veterans get out of the military and then have a hard time getting normalized back into civilian life. This bothers me too. I can tell you that a soldier may never be fully integrated into civilian life. The standards in the military are much greater than they are in the civilian world.

A warrior knows this. For a warrior, it's difficult to not to be around other warriors.

Begin answering these questions. What bothers me? What can I do to help? How can I add value?

What are my natural talents gifts abilities and strengths?

One of the best ways that I had discovered my strengths was through leadership classes. I may not be the best leader, but I found that I have a knack for understanding people and putting them in positions where they can succeed, win and use their gifts.

I love matching people with their gifts and talents, then watching them use them. For me there is no better thing on earth than watching other people have success.

I found my own strengths through several leadership courses and online training's, but the best thing I ever did was read a book called Strengthsfinder 2.0, in it you will discover your top 5 strengths after taking an online questionnaire. Then you will be able to read them and have them broke down into an easily understandable format.

The great thing about this book is that others can read about your strengths. It is a great way to understand your team, family or yourself better.

My top five are:

  • Achiever
  • Self Assurance
  • Learner
  • Context
  • Relator

After reading the book, you will know what your strengths are as well, then you can learn more about them and start aligning your strengths with your new mission. More than likely you will be able to put your strengths into action right away.

RE-TARGET

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Once you have identified your strengths and what bugs you, now you can begin to identify your targets.

Not everything is the right target for you. 

Some targets will have a bigger impact on your life or overall mission. Those are the ones that you need to identify and isolate.

The biggest part of locating targets is thinking offense all the time. 

When you are thinking offense all the time, you are more direct, focused and clear about what it is that you want.

How to Identify Targets:

One of the best decision making tools that I have seen and personally used is something called the "FITS".

It is used by Commander Mark Divine the bestselling author of Way of the SEAL and 8 weeks to SEALFIT.

FITS is broken down into four steps:

Step 1: Ask yourself:

Does this target fit you (F)? When you set about choosing a high-priority goal, it’s a good time to evaluate if it aligns with your (or your team’s) ethos (your “why”), and also how it sets with your unique combination of talents, skills and directional energy. How often do we go after goals that aren’t suitable for us to begin with?

Step 2: Ask:

How important is this target to achieving overall mission success (I)? There are many paths to take when embarking on a mission – and many targets to knock down on the way. Analyzing the value of the proposed target and where it will get you is key. What is the return on investment and how valuable will the goal be with respect to your overall mission? How will it set you up to tackle even larger long-term goals?

Step 3:

Evaluate whether the timing is optimal for pursuing the target (T)? This point requires an honest assessment of whether or not it’s too early or too late to make your move on the proposed target, and where you stand against any competition when it comes to claiming the goal.

Step 4:

Be clear about your ability to simplify the mission plan (S). Is the objective fuzzy or crystal clear? Is it something you can communicate effectively so the team will rally for massive mobilization? Would failure degrade your reputation, future capacities and team cohesion? Note that this is not an excuse to avoid risk, rather ensure you don’t take uncalculated, stupid risks.

This isn't an exercise that you race through or only do once, it should be something that is done very often, possibly once a week so that you remain on target.


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Re-Focus

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One of the biggest lies that we tell ourselves is that multi-tasking and focusing on more than one target at a time is helpful. This is probably one of my biggest struggles. I usually try to juggle a million things at once and it seems that I have about a 40% success rate.

Only focusing on one target increases your chances of hitting it. Think about it, if you are at a gun range, you move from one target to the next, but you don't move on until the first one is hit.

Watch Keanu Reeves tackle these targets one at a time:

Yes, it takes some serious time learning the discipline and focus to take down targets like this, but that is our goal right?

How do you Focus?

  • Act on one target at a time, do not move on until you have accomplished the first one
  • Make a Plan, write down your 100 Impossible Lifetime Goals, or just Goals in general, and move down the list one at a time.
  • Stay in the zone, what I mean is, keep moving forward. Don't stop. It's much harder to refocus when you let your guard down, or lower a weapon. Then you have to start all over.
  • Get a routine - All great warriors have a routine that they perform, a Kata so to speak. Something that you go through everyday that prepares your mind and body for whatever the day holds. The more you do this, the better at it you will become.

RE-Engage

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Get back in the fight.

Once you are on target and focused on it, you engage it.

TAKE. ACTION.

EXECUTE.

All of this is meaningless unless you execute and follow through.

That's why you use an Action Plan.

An action plan is a tool that you have everyday. It's basically a task list, something that keeps you on target, focused and ready to succeed.

You set daily goals, weekly goals and then the big yearly goals, something that you are ultimately working towards.

It is a simple method of taking a huge goal and breaking it down into bite size chunks that you can easily start knocking out.

You have to believe that you can accomplish your mission. If you don't believe in it no one else will either. That's not why you are doing it though, you are doing it because it is what you are supposed to do.

You need the mission. It is going to give life to your otherwise dry bones, it will give direction to your daily life and you won't slip into the grind like a ship lost at sea...you will now have a compass.

Full Disclosure

Every month or so, sometimes a couple months, I slip into a depression for a couple days. I can't explain it, it's just something that happens to me. I lose sight of what my mission is, or I forget. 

I tend to shut people out during this time to reflect and think about a new course of action, where I went wrong, and how I can get focused again. 

These are the exact steps that I uses. I am an achiever so if I'm not doing something productive or useful, I become destructive and depressed. In those times, I go back to basics.

Ultimately God guides my life, and so I begin there. Am I doing what he wants me to do because that's where I get my mission from. He planted the 360 Man Project inside of me, and continues to push me to write and create content. That is my mission.

To help men be the men that they were made to be. If I'm not doing that then I won't feel accomplished, fulfilled or complete.

What is your mission? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it?

Also, If you want to join my mission Please feel free to Contact me Here.


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