Recently I was away from home at a personal development retreat, working on crafting my personal mission statement. I was feeling great about my progress when I called my husband, who aside from handling his professional career, was handling all the normal daily issues at home with our three girls.
While I was feeling inspired, rested and focused from my time at the retreat, I could tell my wonderful husband had experienced an exhausting day. Sometimes those long distance parenting calls can be challenging when you aren’t in the same physical location to support each other.
This call was a bit different, and this moment became a turning point for my work—all because of my personal mission statement. I want to share this process with you so you can see the great value in focusing on your best purpose, the best you, and how it benefits others—especially those closest to you.
In that phone call, I did not default to trying to fix or rescue the situation. I paused to reflect on my 10-word mission statement (To connect, inspire and lead with creative courage and optimism), which guided me to new behavior that was healthier for everyone in my family. Instead of frustration or caving in, I reflected on my mission statement. How could I connect, inspire and lead with creative courage and optimism inside this one conversation with my husband?
My entire response changed. So did the conversation, and the next one with my mom, and the others after that. I was focused on my mission, not fixing, not getting frustrated but rather offering my best thinking and support to those I love. When I can keep the mission statement top of mind, it changes the entire dynamic of the conversation in healthy way. For me, these three words are my why, be it professionally or personally.
My personal mission statement has become so much more than words for me. When the check out person at Publix isn’t fast enough, I think about my mission statement and check my impatience. In a conversation with my employees, I think about my mission statement and dig deeper. In parenting my three daughters, I think about my mission statement and help them pick themselves back up when they stumble. This phrase grounds me and helps me bring my best self to most (because it’s a work in progress) moments every day.
So let me tell you how I drilled down to come up with these 10 words.
Stating Your Truest Mission
In my retreat, my task was to identify my mission statement. To do that, I needed to know why I was here. One way to back into this is to think about who you are when you are at your best, your truest self.
Thinking about that time, ask yourself any of the questions below:
- What makes you proud of yourself?
- What matters most?
- What makes life worth living?
- What are your deepest values?
- Who do you want to be?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind?
It’s important to remember that there are no right answers. Personal mission statements take work, and you won’t find one right off the top of your head.
Beyond Feelings, Look at Actions
A personal mission statement can capture your behavior when you are at peak performance. It is at these moments that you know what your best looks and feels like. Your personal mission statement reflects who you are, and want to be, at your best.
Some questions that helped me drill down:
- How do you lead when you are your best self?
- How do you think when you are your best self?
- How do you react and recover when you are your best self?
- Who are you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and relationally when you are your best self?
- What is your best version of yourself in your main roles (family member, employee, supervisor, friend, parent, etc.)?
Revising the Script
A personal mission statement marks a moment in time in which you aspire to rise above the thinking and behavior that may have been getting in your way. The following questions can help you sort the past, and shape what you need for optimal performance.
- What is your old story, i.e. what have you been telling yourself that limits your best self?
- What is your new story? (Start this answer with “The truth is …”)
- What are your new behaviors and rituals that affirm your new story?
Your Game Changer Takeaway
A personal mission statement is a compass to guide our way through the inevitable moments of discomfort and uncertainty en route to our goals. Taking time to drill down to your essential beliefs and personal story will help you understand your true self – en route to your best self. In only a few words, you have a motto that is easily accessible when you need it most.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach business people the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.