Assignment 2016: What is your platform?

Assignment 2016: What is your platform?

As 2016 starts, many of us are thinking about our goals for the year. There are so many jokes and memes about New Year’s Resolutions that it is easy to think that making resolutions is a bad thing, but it’s not. It is very healthy to spend some time actually thinking intentionally about what you want, and spend even more time thinking about how to get what you want. I suggest one more step. Think about what is your platform? More about this later.

I think by now we understand the terms mission or purpose, vision or goals, and values.

Purpose answers the questions why am I here and what am I put on earth to do? Yes, these are big questions and I suggest you spend some time thinking about this.

Vision is less big, but often no less daunting a question. Vision answers the question where am I going? With people that I coach and organizations I work with, I counsel them to make the vision specific. For example, one of my personal vision statements for 2016 is that I am a calm counsel and guide for my oldest son as he applies to colleges, and also makes the transition from high school senior to college freshmen. I also have vision statements for my health, my finances, and my work life.

Similarly, values are intended to help you define the boundaries of your vision statement. While I might have a financial vision, am I willing to steal to achieve it? Am I willing to give up my family time to achieve this vision? Answering questions like these will help you identify your values.

But I think we are missing something in our pursuit of defining purpose, setting a vision, and realizing boundaries. I think we sometimes try to think about purpose (why am I here) or vision (what do I want to become) without thinking about platform defined as where do I want to spend my time and where will I achieve my purpose or my vision.

I was watching a TV show about New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall. It has long been known that he struggles with bipolar disorder. In this show, the reporter asked him what it was like to be open about his mental illness on such a big stage (the National Football League). In answer, Brandon’s stated that being a New York Jet is what provides the platform through which he can highlight issues of mental illness. In a sense, he sees part of his purpose as helping others escape the stigma of being diagnosed with mental illness, and his job as a professional football player is the platform from where he can shine a light on the issue.

So, what is your platform? If your purpose is to help people, what is your platform? Do you help people at your job? Through volunteer work? Involvement with your family? I think successful people not only come up with a clear purpose statement, but they attach that purpose to an equally clear and specific platform.

On my own personal journey, part of my purpose involves activation. Let me explain. It is similar to receiving a new credit card in the mail; before you use it you have to activate it. I see my purpose as activating people– getting them to see their true potential — which is often so much more than they think. (It is as if people think they have a $1,000 line of credit when in fact their line of credit is $10,000 or $100,000.) Equally important was finding a platform through which I could act on my purpose. The platform I found was coaching basketball. I was never a great player, but I do know enough about a coaching (in the Canadian context, I am actually a certified youth coach) to have some skill. What is more important to me is that I use the platform of coaching to activate the youth I coach.

So when people ask me why I take the precious free time I have and volunteer to coach 11- and 12-year old boys, none of whom I am related to, I say because I see basketball as a platform to help activate their lives.

So I leave you with this question: What is your platform for 2016?