What Would Your Personal Mission Statement Say?

Scott Tackett

Cleanfax Magazine – July 2014

Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” As we look deeply within ourselves as managers and leaders in the 21st century workplace, no truer words can be spoken.

How you manage your employees is one way you display what lies within you on a regular basis. Although most of us have read countless articles and books on being a manager, and it may seem easy when described on paper, being a good manager can be a difficult job to balance in the real world. I am sure that most if not all of you can relate to the following comments:

“There’s too much to do and too little time to get it all done.”

“I am very busy, but I am not doing what I really feel I should be doing.”

“I am succeeding in one area of my life, but failing terribly in other areas.”

“I don’t feel that I have a sense of meaning or purpose in my life anymore. It’s really about just getting through this latest crisis.”

So how do you handle these feelings? You are probably reacting in the same manner in which I did for many years. I engaged in the classic form of management known as “seagull management.” I used to fly in, make a ton of noise, drop a load on everyone, and then take off, leaving everyone else clean up the mess. In fact, there are many books written about this very subject, yet we often fail to recognize our inappropriate behavior or worse, we justify it by making excuse after excuse.

So the million dollar question becomes “How do I stop this behavior?” Several years ago I was “forced” to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and I feel it provided me with the opportunity to begin to understand for the first time the need to change my basic pattern. I was not helpless or the victim of circumstances and/or other people, and ultimately, I needed to accept personal responsibility for my actions in both my professional and personal life.

Covey spends a considerable amount of time in this book encouraging and justifying the critical need for EVERY leader to write and then act on a personal mission statement. The key point is that the process of writing your personal mission statement is as critical as the end result. Writing a personal mission statement forces each of us to think through our priorities deeply and carefully and to associate our behaviors with our strongly held beliefs. His rationalization for developing a personal mission statement is that others, both in our workplace and in our personal life, will begin to sense that we are not being driven by everything that happens to us, but rather that we have developed a true sense of mission about what we are trying to do and about what we are truly passionate. The important point here is passion. As responsible human beings there is no substitute for passion. Writer and editor Norman Cousins said, “Death isn’t the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.”

So I encourage each of you to commit to writing and acting on a personal mission statement. By doing so, you create for yourself a framework and guidelines around that for which you are passionate and about how you will govern yourself so that you will never again succumb to any of the four statements above or others like them.