As I go through the intellectual will with my friends, some questions have popped up. I plan on addressing them in a series of blog posts. I’ll start with the core beliefs phase and work my way down to the reflection phase.
The core beliefs phase is the first phase in the intellectual will and I think the most important because it challenges you to ask yourself questions that you may never have asked yourself before. Or if you have thought of these things, you never have written them down or even shared them.
I was inspired mostly by Simon Sinek, Gary Keller, and Greg McKeown because these three authors in their books discuss the importance of knowing why you are doing something.
I believe that the intellectual will can be applied to anything, but more specifically, the core beliefs phase can be applied to personal, business, and professional life. Ideally, your core beliefs in your personal life carry over into your professional or business life.
Below are the five steps that make up phase one: core beliefs. I provide context and examples from my intellectual will; so you can get an idea of what to write. Please note that I went through countless revisions before I was satisfied with what I wrote. This goes the same for the entire intellectual will because it is a living document; always changing and transforming just like life.
Step 1. What is your legacy
For this question, some people have told me that they don’t have a legacy. When they say that, I ask them to close their eyes and envision their ideal world and what role they might play in that ideal world. Write that down, that’s your legacy. Legacy to me, just means what do you leave behind for yourself, your family, your community, and the world.
For example: My legacy
- I live every moment free and joyful, being the best person I can be, sharing my creations with others; that is my daily legacy.
- I connect with other resourceful, kind, and empathetic people.
- I create things that contribute to the growth of myself, the planet and its people and inhabitants.
- I love my family, friends, and community and I pass on monetary and non-monetary wealth to my family, friends, and community.
Step 2. What is your mission?
For this question, some have told me, how can their life have a mission? Think of your mission as an objective, a goal, and/or an outcome; something that you are always striving for. Ideally, your mission aligns with your legacy.
To write a mission statement, I first looked at a few company’s mission statements for inspiration on how to construct a statement. The reason why I looked at other companies is because I wanted to see if there was a common thread. While all the company’s mission statements differed, they all followed a similar sentence structure. This helped me first formulate my thoughts. Then I went to work revising my mission statement. My mission statement went through countless revisions before I was satisfied that it resonated with me.
For example: My mission
Freedom. To connect people to information, knowledge, and resources that allows them to grow. Learn. Grow. Pass.
Step 3. What are your values?
For this question, I first wrote down values that I thought I had in general. I then I looked at a list of values that Brene Brown had in one of her workbooks that I got from school. I circled all the values that resonated with me and then I narrowed it down to three. I also contacted people and asked them to give me about three words that they felt described me. Three of the people only knew me for two years, two were college friends, one was a friend for 10 years, and two were my siblings.
Interestingly, several words or synonyms popped up with these people and some of them aligned with what I wrote down. This signaled to me that my character is pretty much the same across all types of people. Before constructing the intellectual will framework, I started off with values, but when I came up with this process and put legacy and mission first, some of my values shifted because they did not align with my mission. Those other values were more of my moral compass versus my life values that guide me professionally and personally.
Some values were missing something, so another tactic I took was going to Google and typing in a word and then looking at the definition and synonyms until a word resonated with me. For example: “innovative define” that’s how I would type it into Google, minus the quotation marks.
I then took whatever word I thought fit my idea of my value and gave it my own definition. I suggest keeping values at 3 to 5, with maybe 8 maximum.
For example: My values
My mission of freedom is guided by the belief of curiosity, organizing, growth, sharing, supporting, and fellowship.
- A love of learning leads to wonder: Curiosity is gaining new ideas, searching for patterns, and a genuine interest in life by asking questions.
- Honing in on what to focus on allows for effectiveness: Organizing is making order from information and knowledge collected to provide a good foundation for asking the right questions and developing the right systems.
- Ideas are a thought that can linger or take form; sometimes, all that is needed is a nudge in the right direction: Support is helping people identify an opportunity, develop it, and see it to completion.
- Each and every one of us is born with a light and that light needs nurture and support: Growth is moving onward to create a desired change that helps nurture the light inside.
- Ideas should be enjoyed: Sharing is passing on information, ideas, and knowledge to current and future generations who can use that insight to grow.
- Individual strengths are stronger when combined with the strength of others: Fellowship is belonging to a unified group and collectively working to support each other’s interests.
Step 4. What are your philosophies
This step was not in the first draft of the Intellectual Will, but as I went through the will with my friend, I realized some things are important, but don’t make the cut as one of the values. So I thought maybe these are more philosophies. Are there any phrases or mottos you always say to yourself or others? These are your philosophies.
For example: my philosophies
- Love everyone and everything as you would like to be treated.
- Love is trust, honesty, stability, faith, well-being, friendship/companionship/family.
- Be calm.
Step 5. What do you do?
This step was the hardest for me. Something I’ve struggled with for a long time, which is why I started blogging; to talk about my journey through life; figuring out what I want to do and how. What you do, should align with steps 1 through 4. Look back on your life and think about moments when you were in flow or in a focused state. Think about things you like to do. Sit on this for some time. Maybe for you it is clear what you do, or maybe you are like me a wanderer. (sidenote, I saw a quote that said “not all wanderers are lost” and that really hit me). So if you struggle with this step. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Ask some people. It helps to talk to others about what you like to do and maybe they have the word for you. For me when I finally realized what I do, my friend gave me some additional insight and that helped me put two and two together.
For example: What do I do?
I create. I create content. “Create and tell stories in new & unique ways; a mindset architect” That’s what my friend said when I told him I create.
I hope providing a little more context to phase one of the intellectual will was helpful to you. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss it further.
If you are visiting this website for the first time, check out this post that describes what is an intellectual will.
Photo Credit: Kushagra Kevat