So two months ago, I met a woman getting out of prison after 28 years. Rather odd way to start a story, right? I was beginning my weekly meeting with a client, whose family-owned company is a century long success story – third largest in the industry, in the nation and 99 years in business. As I was walking into the president’s office, she was walking out. My client introduced us and despite her infectious smile and small stature, her handshake was strongly confident. I was told she just retired from the federal prison system after 28 years of HR and training development experience.
She shared her passion for training and development with me. As a coach, I wasn’t impressed with her “elevator pitch” because it was evident she didn’t have a focus. It was obvious to me she needed to find her “One Thing.” After asking permission to offer a suggestion, I recommended she write her personal mission statement to help discover her “One Thing”. She could have ignored my proposal but she didn’t. She thoughtfully completed the task and even called to share the results with me. Despite working in the public sector for her entire career, I was so moved by her passion and clarity in her personal mission statement, I asked her to join the Statarius team. Yes, she decided to apply her radical appetite for learning by enthusiastically joining the team! Today, rather than passing in the office corridor we are walking side by side, helping clients – one personal mission statement at a time.
Writing a personal mission statement helps clarify the values and personal characteristics that define you. In my family of four, we developed a family mission statement that we used as a compass for family decisions. That mission statement still is, “Do Your Best. Do What’s Right. Treat Others as They Want to Be Treated.” Now we all refer to them when a difficult decision needs to be made. Today fewer leaders are taking the time to be introspective and answer some simple thought-provoking questions. In recent surveys less than 2% of the population, including those in leadership positions, have a written personal mission statement. Recently one CEO client admitted that she was scared to complete this exercise. Eventually she recognized the importance, wrote her mission statement and suggested her executive team do the same. Don’t wait!
Do you have a set of guiding principles in your life? Are they still serving you well? This is a personal and lonely journey but you must discover this on your own – no matter how frightening! And for those of you wondering if the TV sensation, “Orange is the New Black” actually depicts what prison reality is – my newest friend tells me emphatically NO!
Why do you think fewer people write personal mission statements today than 20 years ago?
“Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.”
Dr. Nido Qubein, Successful Motivational Speaker,
Author and President of High Point University in High Point, NC