What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.
~ Pablo Picasso
I taught, conducted primary and secondary research, and performed outreach for 20 years at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I taught, conducted secondary research, and performed outreach for about two-and-a-half years at Stardust Sanctuary in western Belize. This essay compares the mission statements of the two entities while hinting that each of us is capable of finding our own purpose (aka mission).
The mission of the University of Arizona is: “To improve the prospects and enrich the lives of the people of Arizona and the world through education, research, and creative expression.” This mission statement is so vague and uninteresting that, although I assumed the institution had a mission statement, I did not know such a statement existed during my two decades on the University of Arizona campus.
My interpretation of the University of Arizona’s mission statement is that, like the university administration itself, money matters more than anything else. “To improve the prospects and enrich the lives” implies that monetary enrichment is what really matters. One could even conclude that job prospects and subsequent financial “success” are the goals of university life.
Our mission at Stardust Sanctuary in western Belize, while I lived there, was: “Facilitate the personal growth of all who live or visit here.” I helped write it, and I thought deeply about it before doing so. Maybe it’s just me, but I really like the tone and focus of this mission statement. It has nothing to do with money or the conventional definition of success. It reflects my own belief that personal growth is considerably more important than growth of one’s personal supply of money.
For many years I asked my university students to write a mission statement, followed by a shorter, and typically more poignant, epitaph. These assignments encouraged students to think about their goals in life. I have written often in this space about the topic of finding your own purpose, which is consistent with the idea of finding a mission. I believe these ideas are critical to personal growth. I believe they can be best pursued with behaviors rooted in living intentionally. Even more importantly, I believe finding one’s purpose leads to relevant actions, hence to a life of excellence.
Life matters to me. Living matters to me. Living in a certain way, exhibiting particular behaviors, matters to me. What matters to you?
Dear prospective supporters,
I am working with a small group of organizers to create a spring speaking tour along the Pacific coast of the United States. It will include the area between the San Francisco Bay Area in California and Portland, Oregon. The tentative schedule has me starting in the Bay Area in mid-April, 2019 and using personal automobiles and the AmTrak train to proceed from there to Portland in early May, 2019.
My existing supporters, organizers, and hosts need additional support to make this tour happen. Can you help?
We need hosts in several locations, including Monterey, San Francisco, the East Bay, Marin County, Ashland, and Eugene. Hosting is needed for speaking venues as well as housing for me and my partner and videographer Pauline along the route. We are also requesting financial support to cover airfare and local travel expenses.
As you probably know, I never charge for my events and I rely entirely on the generosity of folks like you to continue spreading this important message. If you are willing to assist, please reach out to me at email@example.com. I will work with the tour organizers to put your generous support to good use.
Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Kevin Hester and Guy McPherson. To listen live, tune in the first Tuesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, or catch up in the archives here. If you prefer the iTunes version, including the option to subscribe, you can click here. We’re on Stitcher, too.
Please help us out by sending your comments, questions, and prospective guests to Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your toll-free call during the broadcast: 888.874.4888 (from outside the United States, the unreliable number is 0116055625119).
McPherson, Guy R. 2018. Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction. Woodthrush Productions, New York.
McPherson, Guy R. 2019. Revised Second Edition of Going Dark. Woodthrush Productions, New York.
Pauline Panagiotou Schneider and Guy R. McPherson. 2018. Revised Second Edition of Ms. Ladybug and Mr. Honeybee: A Love Story at the End of Time. Woodthrush Productions, New York.
Mugs, tote bags, iPhone cases, tee shirts, and other pragmatic goods affiliated with the latter book are available here. I do not earn money from these items. Indeed, they have returned far less money than it cost to create and distribute them. I list them at the bottom of posts in this space in support of my artistically inclined partner, who created them.