From day number one of starting a business, we’re repeatedly told that we need a mission statement. That this one sentence or phrase can help us effectively build our brand, better connect with our consumers, and keep us focused on where it is we want our new business to be a decade or two down the road. Basically, it can help us become a success.
I don’t know about you, but this caused me to agonize over my mission statement for weeks. Of course I wanted my business to succeed! Therefore, I knew I had to come up with what I intended to achieve as well as why this was so important to me…and I needed to do it in a way that was impactful, powerful, and inspiring. No pressure there!
Thankfully, I was eventually able to take my writing skills and my heart and combine them together to create a mission statement for my business I can be proud of—“To help other small business owners and entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success by providing them with personal yet professional customer service along with high quality written content intended to help them establish a more solid and trusting relationship between themselves and their target markets.”
This is what I strive to do every day, whether it’s by writing something health and wellness related for a chiropractor or dentist, sharing information about how to increase personal safety for entrepreneurs who often find themselves in situations where they’re alone with clients or in “rough parts of town”, or by providing different ways to help them improve their businesses.
But then it hit me. If my business can benefit so much from creating a mission statement, wouldn’t I benefit from having a personal mission statement too? And, as is usually the case, I quickly learned that I wasn’t the first person to come up with this idea.
Stephen Covey and Personal Mission Statements
A simple Google search told me that there are many others out there (like 15 million plus others) who also believe that creating a personal mission statement can help you excel both personally and professionally. In fact, bestselling author Stephen Covey is one of them, as this is something he addresses within habit number two in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Since The 7 Habits is within the top five books on Amazon in self-help categories related to success and motivation, it’s likely that you may have already read it yourself. I know I did, albeit a long time ago. But, for some reason I didn’t retain the information about creating a personal mission statement. So, if you didn’t either, let me recap it for you.
Stephen Covey explains that personal mission statements “are like a personal constitution, the basis for making major, life-directing decisions, the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives.” In other words, just as business-related mission statements help us make the best decisions for our companies based on our values and goals, personal mission statements achieve the same effect while being directed more at what we want out of our lives on an individual level—what we want personally.
Sometimes personal mission statements are referred to as simply purpose statements. Academic institutions regularly use purpose statements in their writings as a way to define the goal behind a particular document. In a sense, creating a purpose statement for your life does the same as it clarifies what you’re after, what it is you’re striving to do in this thing called life.
Interested in learning more, I reached out to some other small business owners to ask about their personal mission statements. Primarily, I wanted to see what they said, but I also wanted to learn what effect creating one had on their life. What follows is what they told me.
“Live a Life of Pride, Health, and Kindness”
Bonnie Nicholls is a freelance writer and founder of Hear Ye! Writing and she shared that, “I’ve never really thought of my personal mission statement, not in those exact words, and then I realized that a book I’d been reading, Successful Women Think Differently, had got me thinking about what’s important in my life.” And what’s important to Nicholls, her personal mission statement of sorts, is “to do work I’m proud of, enjoy life, live healthy, and be kind to others as much as possible.”
I asked Nicholls how each of these ideas has affected her on a professional level and she explained that the first point—doing work she’s proud of—has been beneficial because “When I do work I’m proud of, I work hard at it. That’s good for me and good for the customer. That keeps me happy and it ensures customers don’t hire someone like me who isn’t right for the job.”
That makes sense, doesn’t it? When you’re working in a manner that makes you proud of yourself, you want those good feelings to continue, automatically making you work harder, which ultimately benefits both you and your customer. Great! Now, what about enjoying life and living healthy? How do these impact her on a business level?
Nicholls says that, to her, “these go hand in hand. As someone who once had the corporate life and now runs her own business (and is in her 50s), I want to enjoy my life with my husband, my friends, and my family. I also want to live a healthy life by going to the gym, walking around my neighborhood, and having active vacations. If I make these priorities, I’m happier and more focused when I work. It also makes me weigh what types of projects I’m willing to take on and what types of customers I want to work with. If a project is going to demand lots of weekend hours, if a customer is going to demand that I be available 24/7 or require that I work on-site for most of the job, it’s not a good fit.”
In essence, having a personal motto that focuses at least partially on happiness and health, Nicholls is more focused and more selective about the types of clients she works for and with. Certainly, taking this approach can save her a bunch of unnecessary stress, which also helps enhance her health and wellness since The American Institute of Stress reports that stress is responsible for 75 percent of doctors’ visits.
And as far as being kind to others as much as possible, Nicholls says that “this essentially is respect. Really, what’s the point of being rude? If someone asks me if I do certain work and it’s not my expertise, I do my best to send them referrals. If someone asks me to critique their work, I try to do it in a helpful way, not egotistical or snarky. It’s how I like to be treated — honestly.” Nicholls admits, “I don’t always succeed at this one, but it’s a good thing to aspire to.”
“Be True and Passionate”
Melanie Michaud, owner of Graffiti Beach, a brick-and-mortar and online boutique that sells beach-related clothing, accessories, and décor, also has a personal mission statement and it is: “Always be true to yourself and passionate about everything you do.” When asked how she came up with this statement, Michaud said, “Life is so much fun when you put extra thought into everything—from the food you put into your body, your work, and the clothes you wear to the people you surround yourself with.”
Michaud says that following her personal mission statement has helped her not only personally, but professionally as well. Specifically, she says that living in truth and passion has helped her “create a trusting relationship with my employees, customers and friends. In business, the excitement I have for the products I carry and the service my employees provide spreads to everyone that enters my store or shops online.”
This reminds me of something that inspirational speaker Red Katz said when I interviewed him about how to be an impactful speaker. He said that having passion is necessary to connecting with your audience, citing the example that, “If you’re talking to me about air conditioners and you have passion, I’ll listen, even if I’m not interested in them. However, if you speak about something I like and don’t have passion, you’re going to lose my attention.”
In other words, be passionate and those around you will become more passionate too. This benefits you professionally as passionate employees tend to be more focused, productive, and driven to succeed and passionate clients will continue to walk through your door.
“That They May Know the Truth”
Chavaz Kingman is an executive coach, author, and personal development expert focused on enhancing corporate social responsibility and he says, “While my business mission statement is ‘Character, Integrity, and Success,’ my personal mission statement resounds with me daily and it is ‘That they may know the truth.’” What does he mean by this?
Kingman explains that this personal mission statement came from thinking about Pontious Pilate, Roman governor in the 1st century who was the judge at Jesus’ trial, who once asked “What is truth?” Kingman says, “In considering this question, I looked back at my early career and uncovered many areas where, as a professional, I felt that I could have been better form myself and my staff had I known truth. It has caused me to be a constant ‘doer of homework’ and an avid researcher.”
Kingman says that this has helped him professionally as he is “now known as a business executive who is unafraid to ‘call it like it is’ and who simplifies complex business situations to relay them to managers and staff on many diverse levels of education, race, or even sex and sexual orientation.”
Kingman goes on to say that, “Truth is never limited to human assumption. In today’s world, we must all seek truth because it opens us up to the greatness within each of us and once we can see our value, we can then better serve the world, whether we are business leaders, managers, or staff.”
What Is Your Personal Statement?
As you can see, creating a personal statement is, well, personal. It’s based on your specific beliefs, attitudes, and desires and how each one pushes you to achieve more, do more, and have a bigger impact on the world around you.
Looking at these factors in your life, what is your personal statement? What values and expectations do you hold near and dear to your heart that can help drive you to be better personally as well as professionally?
Figure that out and you’ll likely achieve higher levels of success in both areas. That makes it more than worth the time and, in my case, the weeks of trying to figure it out.
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a unique article idea, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!