Category Archives: Time Management

Personal Mission Statements are dumb

That’s how I felt 25 years ago, when I was working on a system to improve my work and life focus. The concept made sense, it wasn’t that. Stephen Covey of Seven Habits fame conjectured, to paraphrase: “What good is ‘climbing the ladder’ if you reach the top and realize it’s against the wrong building?” He was trying to make the distinction between being efficient — moving as quickly as possible from rung-to-rung — and being effective. Effective people are also more resilient. For people who know they are navigating against their “True North,” setbacks don’t seem quite so hard.

No, what I hated about personal Mission Statements is the fact that those I had read — the examples I found — frankly were dumb. I know, they weren’t dumb to their authors. But to me they all sounded way too high-minded. They all sounded like the platitudinous statements made during the Q&A phase of a beauty pageant.

But I persisted. I realized that I needed to ignore the ones that I’d read. (They comprised a fairly small sample; This was pre-internet, before the world’s knowledge was at the end of a quick Google search.) Instead, I meditated and ruminated. And I assured myself that when I found the right one, others would likely find mine as dumb as I found theirs. It’s sort of like looking through someone else’s closets (“Do they really think that shirt is a good idea?!?”)

After literally a year of trying, my mission statement came to me in a flash. I was, interestingly enough, on a massage table at the time. It’s surprising what’s released along with all that lactic acid. For what it’s worth, here it is:

Lead by example
Live in acceptance and non-judgement
Help people laugh at themselves and the world
Help people succeed financially

That last one comes from my early professional life, which took place in the mid-1980s, the second most severe recession since the last one. It was a tough time to start out, and money was scarce. I vowed to be the mentor I never had and help people find work that they love.

Do you have a notable Mission Statement? I’ve turned my comments off, but you can find me. Let me know!