Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lessons I've Learned II - Mission Statements

May 20, 2009

I’ve learned that mission statements not only have an enormous impact on setting goals and direction, but they also help to motivate you to keep moving in that direction. Here’s mine:

Personal Mission Statement
Tim Hartman
Created: March 17, 2008

Because through giving comes wealth, I will always seek to serve others first. I will accept everyone and defend those not present. I will be giving of my time and talents while cherishing opportunities to be alone, to think, to meditate and evaluate.
I will never assume I’ve figured it all out, always seeking to further my understanding of why I’m here. I will keep a calmness around my life that brings myself and others peace.
I will use solid judgment doing my best in everything I do, refusing to be discouraged by setbacks or failure.

This is what I created in a period of soul-searching after the national strikes in February 2008. I was frustrated, feeling that Cameroonians didn’t have very much motivation to improve their quality of life and I needed, once more and more seriously this time, to pose myself the question ‘What am I doing here?’ I took a few days off and rented a tent by myself on the beach in Limbé. I did a lot of evaluating, reading, reflecting, and of course relaxing. This was one of the very tangible outcomes of what I called a ‘fix myself’ vacation.



Anonymous said...

Hi Tim, I'm hoping you can clear up an argument. I write about holidays of the world. Some sources list the Cameroon Sheep Festival as taking place in May. (May 21, 2009) Others as taking place in August (August 15). Any sign of it going on today from where you are?

Tim Hartman - Cameroon said...

To the random holiday question: I think you're talking about the Fête du Mouton which would literally translate to something like Sheep Festival. In anglophone provinces it is called the Feast of the Ram (not sheep), in the US probably something different still. What is it actually? A Muslim holiday - I'm pretty sure it's the celebration of the end of Ramadan. The date changes every year as it is based on a different calendar.

In any case, May 21, 2009 was a national holiday, but Christian and not Muslim. It was Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended to heaven. Not to be confused with Assumption day, August 15, 2009 which is when the Virgin Mary ascended into heaven. Both of your dates but nothing to do with sheep.

toolazy said...

Hi Tim,

I stumbled upon your blog by chance and I have to admit that I really like it. I went through all your posts with much delight.

As a Cameroonian I would like to thank you for what you have been doing helping improve the quality of life of my fellow countrymen (-and women)

Your reflections are quite deep and I agree with many problems that you have highlighted about Cameroon especially the need for better education. One aspect of education that is missing and you mentioned it is teaching kids how to use their imagination, I have noticed that too. Kids without imagination most likely become adults without vision and this is a major factor to the situation in which Cameroon is in right now.

Sidenote: Before reading you I was watching the clip "Together" of Bob Sinclar, and when kids from all over the world show their drawings of the word Together...I noticed that the kids from Africa did not put much imagination in theirsAnyway, I couldn't agree more with you that educating kids should be the priority of development workers.

Nevertheless despite the fact that you are doing the right thing you will imho not be able to obtain satisfaction in Cameroon, not because Cameroonians "are not motivated to improve their quality of life" but because you are trying to give them something that they do not need from you (as a development worker) and that it seems you do not know how to get for yourself (on a personal level).

Please do not take this as a personal attack; while reading you I have noticed that you are the one struggling to be happy (in your "job" in Cameroon). As a Cameroonian I know for a fact that Cameroonians in a large majority are very happy people, we know how to be happy and you will not be able to make any of us happier. This is not your task as a development worker (I think that bamenda babe tried to tell you that earlier).

I'm no shrink but it is clear that your feeling of not accomplishing much comes from the fact that you seem unable to dissociate quality of life with happiness, these are two different things.

==> improvement of quality of life/development <> pursuit of happinessPS: Don't mind my nickname I use it for years

Jo Ellen said...

Thank you for your service, first and foremost, and also for providing the folks at home and around the world a glimpse into your life as a PCV! We just returned from two weeks with Sarah, traveling around several countries and it was fabulous:) We were able to go in November to visit her village and meet the people who have meant so much to her on this journey--a real privilege to be in her world for a time. I love reading your work--and chose to comment on this post because I want to share my "mantra" with you--my correspondence is always signed "Peace"-and the bottom of my e-mails says this:
peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. (unknown)
And there you have it. You are talking about being present in the moment, allowing yourself to feel the emotions you have welled up in your mind and body--ride the storms when they come. Sarah's talked about this, too. I've learned from her that it is our nature--and our "training" in our culture--to feel somewhat inadequate if we are not "happy" all the time......I still choose to always try to see the best in all people and things (thus my nickname "Polly Positive"... sometimes said with rolled eyes;), but also have learned to give myself some grace if the situation doesn't immediately go the way I would choose and I am saddened by certain situations. See, your journeys teach us valuable lessons, even though we can never know all you experience--that is why we are so grateful for you opening a window into your world for us. Thanks so much for sharing, enjoy your last times in your home for the past 2 years, thanks for teaching 7 Habits, and safe travels prior to your return!!

Jo Ellen
Oh, and almost forgot--Amanda Miller, Sarah's great friend and colleague in Gobabis, and our travel companion, has met you--I think it is a really small world, but the stories in the Peace Corps, World Teach and Volunteer Service Organization is REALLY small!!!!!