Learn why it’s important to develop a personal mission statement and how to build yours.
It is common in all branches of the U.S. armed services for top-ranking officials to develop and declare their philosophy of leadership. This is also known as their personal mission statement.
However, personal mission statements aren’t just for top-ranking officials. Everyone who desires to be a better version of themselves should have one!
Personal mission statements provide individuals and organizations with a virtual map to guide them in this chaotic world. Before we dive into discovering how to write your own personal mission statement, let’s first understand what it is.
What Is a Personal Mission Statement?
A mission statement is defined as a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged.
A properly crafted mission statement has three components. It serves as a filter to separate what is important from what is not.
A mission statement clearly states which markets will be served and how. This document also communicates a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.
It is also important to understand what a mission statement is not. A mission statement differs from a vision statement in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect.
This means a mission is something to be accomplished, whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment.
A personal mission statement states the core values you live by. It includes what you expect of people, what they can expect of you, and how you will evaluate performance.
Understanding what a mission statement is is the first step. Now, let’s dive deeper into the benefits of developing one.
After all, we want to understand why we are investing our most precious resource, our time, into this endeavor.
What Are The Benefits of Developing a Personal Mission Statement?
A well-defined personal mission statement provides your team with transparency. It’s a well-written document that lays out your core leadership values and sets priorities for the organization. In short, your team knows what to expect from you and what you expect from them.
A personal mission statement also can speak for you when you are not physically present. This benefit is becoming more and more attractive with the rise of remote employees. Many of today’s workforce commutes from home or reports to a regional supervisor.
Your employees and team members should be able to turn to your personal mission statement for guidance as they face various decision points.
How Do You Develop a Personal Mission Statement?
There are three key steps to building your personal mission statement: define, disseminate, and demonstrate.
STEP 1: Define
The first step in developing your personal mission statement is defining your core values, key traits, and deep beliefs. Be sure to set aside time away from distractions and spend 20-30 minutes reflecting on and writing your responses to these questions:
- What are your core values?
- How do you determine what is successful?
- Are there traits you wish to seek in others?
Now for the hard part: self-editing. Your list of core values is probably extensive, as these principles are rooted deep into our identity. However, it is important to remember that a good mission statement is concise and easy to remember.
Your team shouldn’t have to flip through pages upon pages. They should be able to look at a brief paragraph that has been distilled down to the essence of your mission.
Once you have defined and refined your core values, translate them into leadership principles. You will model these behaviors, which will show others the type of behavior you expect in return. This will take a bit of work, creativity and innovation, but the outcomes are certainly worth it!
- For example, if one of your core values is trust, you could translate it into the following leadership principle: “I will work to earn the trust and respect of those around me by empowering leverage their talents in order to do their jobs.”
STEP 2: Disseminate
Once you have your basic personal mission statement, it is time to disseminate and distribute it. This may be frightening as you are sharing the core of who you are.
You are taking people on a journey of where you want to go. Despite being uncomfortable, this step is crucial to having a successful personal mission statement.
Personal mission statements aren’t made to stay locked up in a vault. They are meant to be living documents that help us communicate and interact with others!
- Begin disseminating your personal mission statement to your “trusted agents.” These are the surrounding people who will give you honest and constructive feedback.
- Don’t just email your personal mission statement out and hope for the best. Instead, schedule a time to have a conversation with your core team around your personal mission statement.
- During this conversation, ask for their feedback and suggestions on how to improve it. They should be the subject matter experts in your leadership style!
STEP 3: Demonstrate
After reflecting, writing and communicating, now it is time for the fun part: to live your personal mission statement in practice! If it doesn’t match up with your daily actions, behaviors, and directives, it is worthless.
Conversely, a personal mission statement that is congruent with who you are and how you do business is a powerful and essential leadership tool.
- You should identify with, and know, your personal mission statement so well that you it oozes out of you and your actions.
- A personal mission statement should easily provide others with information about who you are and what you stand for.
- This personal mission statement should be a guide for your daily decisions and choices.
Putting it all together
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what a personal mission statement is. The benefits of a personal mission statement are clear and worth the effort.
There are helpful steps to develop an effective personal mission statement of your own. Now, it is time for you to commit to investing in your development as an individual and leader.
As Ed Ruggerio in “The Leader’s Compass” so eloquently said:
“Successful leaders know their Personal Leadership Philosophy (also known as a personal mission statement) and communicate it by living it passionately every day in all they say and do. They have taken the time to determine who they are, their values and priorities. They know their course and have set their internal compass, which gives them greater self-knowledge, greater self-confidence, and improved effectiveness as a leader.”