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Home » Blog » Andy’s Notes from Business Folks: Donald Miller – Live a Life of Meaning…Be a Hero on a Mission!

Andy’s Notes from Business Folks: Donald Miller – Live a Life of Meaning…Be a Hero on a Mission!

It’s Easy to Just Go with the Flow – Instead, Create a Meaningful Life by Becoming a Hero on a Mission.

“I don’t think any of us should trust fate to write the story of our lives.  Fate is a terrible writer.” – Donald Miller

Do you wake up each morning with a sense of purpose and excitement?  Or does it feel like you’re in a hamster wheel just struggling to keep up with the pace but not really getting anywhere?

Perhaps those questions are too far over the top and your life just seems normal.  Regardless of what is true for you, I believe that if you decided to create a fresh story, your personal sense of meaning could grow.

Introduction to Donald Miller

I first heard about Don near the end of 2017 when his newly published book, Building a StoryBrand, was published.  After listening to it on Audible in under two days, I realized two important things:

  1. The use of story and narrative structure can be powerful.
  2. I had inadvertently been using Don’s framework to hire Interns and Engineers, and it was easily the most successful product I’ve ever sold.

Building a StoryBrand completely changed the way I viewed the world (and any movies I’ll ever watch!) as I started seeing the elements of story structure so clearly.  Immediately, we began to apply the StoryBrand framework in our business.  From recruiting to marketing and sales, our language became more deliberate and clearer.  While I continued to study and implement material from Don and his company, Business Made Simple, it was the release of his book, Hero on a Mission, in late 2021 that marked an important change in my life.

Deciding to Be a Hero on a Mission

The idea that I could be a Hero on a Mission was enticing, but it seemed a bit grandiose at first.  I’m pretty private and don’t typically seek notoriety.  Thanks to growing up with movies, my picture of a “hero” was a larger-than-life figure, and I certainly don’t think of myself in that manner.  But the framework in Hero on a Mission focused more on outlining the meaningful aspects in my life, contemplating the obstacles to overcome, and identifying the path to achieve my opportunities for success.

Write Your Eulogy

Stephen Covey trained us to “Begin with the End in Mind” in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Covey’s exercise was to picture your 80th birthday party and imagine who attended, what you’d hope they’d say, and then examine the emotions that resulted from the experience.

In Hero on a Mission, Don’s framework takes you all the way to the very end by having you write your own eulogy.  It’s a similar exercise, but it turned out to be a much more emotionally involved experience than Covey’s suggestion.  I’m typically not very emotionally visible and tend to be very even keeled, but going through the process of completing my eulogy was an unexpectedly moving experience for me.

I’ve only delivered one eulogy in my life and that was for my father when he passed in 2009, and of course, that was an emotional experience for me. Writing my own eulogy, however, didn’t start out as a difficult or emotional challenge.  I was going through the process with a small group (yes, in addition to the book, there is an online course) and we had determined that after writing our eulogy, we would read it aloud each morning for the following week.  Simply saying the words triggered a flood of emotions, and it took several days before I was able to get all the way through without my voice breaking.  I’m sure it was a combination of remembering my dad’s eulogy, considering what it would mean to live my life of meaning, and what it would be like for one of my daughters to have to provide a eulogy after I passed.  I know that the emotions I felt helped confirm both my desire to keep that larger purpose in front of me, and the dedication to live out my heroic story as I continued into my future.

Bringing Your Heroic Mission Back to Today

While getting your ultimate “destination” clearly defined in your eulogy is important, just having a far-off goal is unlikely to adjust immediate behavior.  The next step in the Hero on a Mission framework is to develop Vision Worksheets for the next one, five,- and ten-year periods.  These worksheets provide important context that influences your current activities in order to keep you on the trajectory of your Mission.

Hero on a Mission Rhythms

The final, and perhaps most important, aspect of the Hero on a Mission Framework is the regular review.  Without waypoints along the way, it’s easy to get off track on your big dreams.  Heroes can get lost along the way, so building regular reminders as you proceed can get you back on track for your Mission.

Don recommends reviewing your eulogy and vision worksheets daily, but he acknowledges that he more typically does it three to four times per week.  However consistently you can do it, building the rhythm of review helps keep your purpose in the forefront of your mind.  To build my routine, I recorded a voice memo reading my eulogy and one reading my vision worksheets.  Playing them on the way to work each morning was an easy way for me to recalibrate that didn’t overly intrude on my day.  The consistent review reminds me of what’s important as I head to the office to engage in one aspect of my life that’s a significant part of my mission.

Summary

Seeing myself as a Hero on a Mission didn’t come naturally, but Don’s process helped provide a framework for me to consider the bigger picture things that carry importance in my life.  Determining what obstacles I need to overcome and what my successful conclusion might be, helped me see what opportunities I find meaningful.  My perspective on “success” is unique to me, and I encourage everyone to consider what success looks like for themselves.

After learning the Hero on a Mission framework from Donald Miller, I completed the exercises and built the review process into my life. I’ll review and update my eulogy and vision worksheets every year or two because I know my perspective will evolve in the years ahead, and I’ll keep my review rhythm in place to keep my story in the forefront of my mind.

Write Your Eulogy.

The framework in Hero on a Mission provides questions and prompts to guide your process of writing your eulogy.  It’s a thought-provoking activity that may take a couple of sessions to complete.  Once you’ve written a draft, read it aloud to yourself each day to see how it feels.  It’s not unexpected that you’ll make adjustments along the way.

Write Your 1-, 5-, and 10-Year Vision Worksheets.

You’ll need waypoints from today forward to keep you on the path to living out the story you crafted in your eulogy.  The vision worksheets provide different areas to consider as you strive to live your life of meaning.  The 1-year feels quite immediate and has actionable items to work on today.  The 5- and 10-year visions will stretch your mind enough to be aspirational, but they’re still close enough to help inspire your current actions.

Build Your Consistent Review Rhythms.

Just like a corporate mission statement, if put your eulogy and vision on a shelf after you write them, your behavior will not change.  It’s not enough to write your eulogy and vision statements if you never look at them again.  When you build a review rhythm that you consistently repeat, your engagement will be dramatically greater.  You might consider recording a voice memo on your phone to play for yourself each day.  Whatever you do, you must regularly review your vision in order to sustain behavior change.

  • Do you feel like you’re living with a strong sense of purpose?  How would you describe it to a close friend?
  • What big accomplishments would be meaningful for you in the next 15-20 years?
  • Who are the most important people in your life and how would you like them to remember you when you’re gone?
  • List 3-5 words that you’d like people to use to describe you.
  • What obstacles do you know you’ll need to overcome in order to reach your big goals?
  • Who would you like to help, if you had the time and resources?

Donald “Don” Miller is an American author, public speaker, and business owner. He is the CEO of Business Made Simple, a business training company. He is also an author of personal essays and reflections about faith, God, and self-discovery. His first New York Times bestselling book was Blue Like Jazz and his latest book is called Coach Builder.

  1. What one aspect of your life do you find most meaningful and why?
  2. If a movie was made about your life this year, what would it be called?
  3. What’s one thing that you want to have accomplished 5 years from now?  10 years from now?

Please answer the questions and add your comments below. 

We look forward to hearing from you!