Tag Archives: TED talks

“M” is for Mission Statement (Yours)

The week after Christmas last year, a friend and I went on a movie binge. In five days time we saw five movies and no double headers either). Two of the movies, Big Eyes and Wild shared the theme of finding one’s strength, though the main characters took very different routes to do so. The character in Wild started me thinking about personal missions.

wildIn this true story, Cheryl Strayed undertakes a 1200-mile walk along the Pacific Coast Trail. Her “mission” is far greater than to just get from Mexico to Canada; she is on a journey to get her life in order after falling into addiction with the death of her mother. Success for this woman was not finishing the trail; it was rediscovering who she was and transforming her life.

Most of us don’t undertake such monumental journeys for any reason; yet each of us can do better in life and in our careers if we have a framework to help guide our decisions and make us aware of why we do what we do. Companies have mission statements to guide them. Why don’t we?

A mission statement is a clear, concise declaration of what a company wants toth-5 be. If you were a company, what would your mission statement be? How do you intend to be in the world? What is your purpose? How do you want to be perceived?

Two interesting company mission statements I discovered were from Apple (of course) and surprisingly, Jamba Juice. In a montage of Steve Jobs video clips, he th-2said over and over again, “We strive to make the world’s best personal computers.” It’s brief, specific and in terms of guiding decisions I can imagine the C-suite at Apple asking, “But does it help us make the best personal computers?” as they discussed going one direction over another.

Jamba Juice included values in their statement: Jamba! Enriching the daily th-3experience of our customers, our community and ourselves through the life-nourishing qualities of fruits and vegetables.

What does “enriching the daily experience of our customers” mean? Jamba Juice, Inc. included what they call their FIBER Values: Fun, Integrity, Balance, Empowerment and Respect

What makes writing a personal mission statement daunting is that each word is critical and brevity is important. I had little luck in my online search for personal mission statement examples. What might be called a mission statement for a company is often called a personal vision statement when attributed to an individual. Vision statements are often guided by values.

In a 2013 article for Forbes.com, Patrick Hull offers four questions to ask when crafting a mission statement:

  • What do I do?
  • How do I do it?
  • For whom do I do it?
  • What value do I bring?


I suggest adding another question: Why do I do it? In some cases this may be theth-7 only question you need to ask for your personal statement. If your personal mission statement is to help guide your decisions and behaviors in the world, the why is crucial!

Simon Sinek, in his fabulous TED talk on leadership, speaks of “the why” and how leaders who start from “the why” instead of “the what” are more effective. People internalize the why over the what. http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

In my career, I have helped company executives as they struggle to compose their company’s mission statement. It is hard, painstaking, and thoughtful work. It will be no less for you.

th-1My advice is to simply brainstorm some ideas on paper. Ask trusted friends how they would describe you in the world, not in the physical sense but in terms of spirit/energy. Write it all down, and then let it sit. Revisit it in a few days. Revise and let it sit. You will know when you get the right words.

My mission, written some years ago after a Covey workshop, and revisited yearly is not exactly succinct, but it reflects how I want to be at work and in my personal life.th-6“I rejoice in the abundance, potential and opportunities given to me each day. I recognize my power to influence the world around me and will use my skills, talents and gifts to the best of my ability and for the overall good. I understand my behavior, both deliberate and unplanned, impacts others. I will live in a way that helps others recognize their own worth and potential.”

This statement has helped me make life choices and career decisions. Will a proposed project allow me to use my talents for the overall good or is it just good money? My statement lifts me up when things are not going the way I hoped and helps me understand that even when I don’t intend to, my behaviors have an impact on others. Best of all, it reminds me of the abundance in the world.





“D” is for Development

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo (1475-1564)

 Here are some interesting (and horrifying) statistics I found at Hot For Words while researching this article http://hotforwords.com/2011/04/11/42-of-people-who-graduate-from-college-never-read-another-book

  • 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.th
  • 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. (Source: Jenkins Group)

Can this be true? As a life-long learner, not to mention an author, these are scary stats.

Learning and development are pretty well planned out for us through high school graduation. Choices are few when it comes to what we learn in elementary and middle school. With progression to high school choices expand and until we graduate we are in a learning environment whether we like it or not. But unless you choose to pursue higher education, the “steps” to formal education stop there. Does the learning? Who is responsible for your continued intellectual growth when high school, college or grad school th-6ends? That would be you.

Even if school was not your “thing” there is a multitude of ways to expand your awareness/knowledge, tap into your potential and hone your talents outside of the classroom…even outside the workplace. Why would you want to keep learning? Continued development elevates your employability, increases chances for promotion, improves interpersonal relationships and research shows, helps you manage stress. No real downsides there.

What can you as an individual do to develop your skills as a professional as we head into mid-year? The choices are many regardless of your budget and time. The first step is determining what you want to learn. Let’s say you are an individual contributor and want to cross over into the management track. How might you prepare?

th-4Start with a candid conversation with your boss. Keep this conversation apart from your performance review. Make this a separate, dedicated conversation. Give your boss a heads up about the focus of your meeting so that he/she might also prepare for the conversation. For example: “Boss, I’d like to manage people in the future. How can I begin to prepare for such a role?”

Don’t be put off by the fact that there may not be any such positions available right now. Remember, you want to begin preparing now and developing the skills you need for when the opportunity arises. It’s always wise to come to this meeting prepared with some development ideas of your own. Suggestions you present to your boss might be:

  • Assignment to a task forces (or team or project) on which you can be in a leadership role
  • Classes/workshops you have researched both within the company and from outside vendors that focus on the skills you need to develop
  • Come to the meeting with a project idea of your own design that you would like to recruit others to work on with you. With this, you can work to develop influencing, leadership and project management skills, demonstrate creativity, and help solve a departmental or organizational problem.

For conversation sake, let’s say the boss isn’t onboard right now. Is that the end of it? No! The workplace is not the only venue for development of self or career. Involvement in outside organizations can help you develop skills needed on the job and for life. Get involved at your child’s school, in your community, at your place of worship or in the professional association of imagesyour field. All these places of opportunity have little if any cost, but for your time. For example: as a consultant I don’t get many opportunities to supervise people or call all the shots on a project. Four years ago when my church decided to open a resale shop I jumped at the chance to bring my business startup knowledge to the project. Today, I am the shop manager. I train volunteers, create and delegate assignments, handle customer complaints, etc. I have developed and use skills that my consulting practice doesn’t call upon often. What I have learned with the shop has made me a stronger consultant.

If your employer can’t pay for a workshop or class, look for a class you can handle through your th-5own budget. Not all seminars are hundreds of dollars. Explore what your local library or continuing education department of your local high school district/park district/community college has to offer. Libraries often bring in business speakers and the cost to the public is free.

Don’t have much time outside work for involvement? Once you decide what it is you want to learn more about, start with reading about it. With traditional books, eBooks and books on CD there is little excuse not to expand your world through the words of others.th-8

And I haven’t even touched on the number of courses and webinars that are online at little or no cost. Check out the free courses from top schools you can access online. Some even provide certificates of completion. https://www.edx.org. You can see and learn from fabulous speakers and thought leaders via TED talks. Their tag line is “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.”www.TED.com

Opportunities for development are all around us. Time and cost are not valid excuses for any of us to stop learning…or giving back, which can also be a great development experience. Don’t be the person who has not read a book since high school/college/grad school ended. There has never been a better time to expand your horizons.