13 Dec

Anyone Can Create A Mission Statement

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He who has a “why” can live with any “what”

– Nietzsche

Full disclosure:  Most of the following is taken either directly or indirectly from the late great Stephen Covey.  If you are not familiar with the most important author on efficiency and effectiveness in the past century, start with The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People – and become one!

  • The power of the personal mission statement lies in your vision and in a commitment to that vision, that purpose, and those principle-centered values.

  • All things are created twice: first in the mind, as a thought or intellectual creation; and second in reality as a physical creation.

  • If you are living out someone else’s script you’re not really living; you’re being lived.

  • Vision – your sense of the future Principles – that which you want to live by.

  • When you live out of your memory, you focus on the past. When you live out of your imagination, you focus on the future.



Your mission statement should be timeless.  It should deal with both the ends and the means It should deal with all your roles in life It should deal with the four dimensions:  the body, the hear, the mind and the spirit

You should be prepared to act according to your mission statement privately and publicly.

Don’t invent your mission statement, detect it. Uncover it. Find out what your unique gifts are.  One way to find out about your unique gifts is to ask people who are close to you to tell you.  “What are one or two things about me that you think stand out as being special or different from other people?” is one way to ask, but there are other ways to get to that information.  Just don’t try to bias it by being at all specific.  Let them think a bit instead of coaching them forward.

Some tools to help get you started:

  1. List three or four things that you would consider most important in your life.
  2. List any long-term goals that you have set or would like to set. Think universal more than things you would like to check off on a list.
  3. Describe where you would like to be with your partner and other important people in your life
  4. How would you like to contribute or inspire others?
  5. What is it that brings you joy or peace of mind?
  6. Everyone has certain gifts that they bring to this world.  Describe yours.
  7. What scares you the most?
  8. What are you afraid of losing the most?

A. Make a list of your 5-7 various roles

You can be specific about your personal roles as a father and husband, but you can also just use family member.

You can be specific about your work roles as mentor, leader or salesman, but you can also just use CEO.

It will all depend on the focus of your mission statement

Add one role called “Sharpen the saw” – your role as a person who wants to continuously improve himself.


B. Prepare your mission statement

When preparing your mission statement, keep the following in mind and try to cover as much of it as possible, but it should be more of a tossed salad than a list.  Make it personal to you and be as creative as you like.

Also, this is not a vision statement where you write, In five years I want to have travelled to six different continents… This is not about a distant hope, but a concretization of your mission in life.

If you see yourself writing, I want this and I want that, slow down and get deeper into the why of it.

If you have trouble getting started, pick up an inspirational book or listen to some great music (without doing anything else) for at least ten minutes, then spend no more than five minutes writing a “pre-“ mission statement; just some bullet points that you know that you would want to include.

WARNING: For a lot of people, writing their whole mission statement in go is either too cumbersome or overwhelming.  If you feel that way, then just start by only allowing yourself five minutes to just get something —  anything written, which you can come back to and augment later.  Even bullet points are fine.  Just eliminate excuses and do it.

Try it now.

Here is mine to use as a guide.  Yours will be VERY different because we are all very different.  I’m only showing you mine to give you the basic idea.  Google “mission statement” and you will see lots.


We have so little time on this earth and we can spend each moment making it a better place, spreading love and positivity or we can go in the opposite direction; we can not go east and west at the same time. So I hope to consistently choose the high road even when – and especially when – the high road is burdensome.

I am thankful for the gifts that I have and I am conscious that along with my awareness comes responsibility.

I want to keep my expectations of friends and family low while expecting great integrity and accountability from myself.  I want to nurture my family on a daily basis, not just when I have time or when the feeling strikes me and I want to remember to seek to understand them before seeking to be understood.

It is not enough for me to feel love for those in my close circles, I want to show it in a range of ways.  Taking care of myself (physically, mentally, emotionally and socially) will ensure my self-worth, because without that I am of no value to others.

I want to be remembered as someone who inspired others to reach their potential and as someone who was not afraid to give without strings attached; someone open, generous, humble, kind, respectable and respectful of each individual.


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17 Dec

The benefits of a culture that puts problem solving ahead of the blame game

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I had an excellent session with a client today in which he told me about how he had to bring one of his employees into his office to remind him that, ”we simply can’t make these mistakes around here”.  My client told me that he had berated the employee with calm but stern voice, meaning that his intention was to wag a finger not kick him in the pants.

I thought about how many times I had done the same thing with my employees. And what do we get out of it? Will your employee improve? Will you score points with your employee? Is the employee grateful to be working at Acme Inc. now that you have laid out the law of the land? Have you solved anything? Have you ensured that the problem won’t repeat itself?

Situations where employees don’t perform well are indicators. The mistakes are the messengers, and we all know that we shouldn’t kill the messenger – which is why we shouldn’t labor about the individual errors that we find out about because without them we wouldn’t know where our challenges lie, and in turn, we would be unaware of our flaws. Let’s face it, no one likes to go to their boss when they have screwed up, but imagine if that culture were turned around and you actually won from doing just that.

It is our responsibility as leaders to transcend the anger and frustration (emotional baggage that follows us from difficult situation to difficult situation) that often comes with the disappointment of having found out that an employee has not lived up to our expectations. We can either focus on their mistakes or ensure that they won’t happen again, but just as we can’t go east when we go west, we can’t do both simultaneously.

There is the famous Stephen Covey quote that reminds us of how critical it is to ponder this idea:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space
In that space is our power to choose our response
In that response lies our growth and our freedom.

If we really want to lead in a positive direction then the choice to berate or support is obvious. The next common mistake in this situation is to then fix the problem instead of helping the employee understand that everyone makes mistakes, but they are accountable for theirs. This means that they should find a solution for preventing this problem from happening again. That might entail them asking your for help if they get stuck. (But they should get stuck first)

Imagine if your employees came to you with solutions for problems that they didn’t foresee earlier:

Rick, I missed the shipment to our number two customer yesterday because I failed to see the ticket. I’m sorry about that and I have done A, B and C in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

That would be a lot better than you finding this out from your number two customer, and since the employee came with a solution you will naturally be much calmer and perhaps even praise your employee for their insight and sense of accountability.

Not all employees do this naturally (actually rarely), so it’s up to you as a leader to invoke this methodology into your culture. The first few times are not easy, and you may be gritting your teeth, but after a while you, your employees and most importantly your customers will reap the benefits of a culture that puts problem solving ahead of blame game.

The best way to initiate this change is to be very transparent. Let them know that you want to move in this direction and that like every habit it will take time. Admit to them that you haven’t been good at it in the past but that you are obviously committed – especially now that they will be looking to see that you keep your word. This will actually help you to stay true to your promise – an excellent one to keep.

The truth is, that unless you lead this, and humbly so (admitting your mistakes along the way), it will not happen and you will miss out on an opportunity much more valuable than an order from your number two customer. As a matter of fact, if you do embrace this idea there is a good chance that your number two customer might become your number eight or nine or even better.

My client took this as a learning lesson.  Will you?


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