Leadership Starts with a Personal Mission Statement

Have you ever sat down and really put some thought into what you are trying to accomplish in your career, the workplace, or in your role? 

Or for that matter, what are you trying to accomplish in your life as a whole?  What is driving you?  What is your end goal?  Many of my clients come to coaching asking themselves these exact questions.  They have hit a point when they suddenly step back, pull out of the weeds, and start looking at the big picture as it pertains to their life. 

This can be a shocking moment for many people as they wonder if the long hours, upward career movement (or lack thereof), personal stress, relationship challenges, and maybe even health issues have all been worth it.  Moments like this can stop people dead in their tracks. They become paralyzed wondering what the point has been and how to move forward.  However, in coaching I unpack these situations by taking clients through specific exercises and asking some very direct questions.  The answers to which lead to the creation of a client’s personal mission statement.   

As a leader you need to know who you are at your core and be able to articulate it to others.  A mission statement will keep you grounded and motivated when things get tough.  It is the underlying reason you get up each morning and live your life. If you believe you have a purpose, want to have an impact, or are determined to leave a legacy then it is important to have a personal mission statement.  Plus, a mission statement is part of your brand. As you work your way up in any organization you will eventually be asked to articulate your brand. 

Many leaders claim to have a purpose and want to make a difference in the workplace.  But they lack a mission statement – mainly because they do not know how to create one. 

My process with clients involves first making sure they are clear on their personal and work values.  This seems like a no brainer, but many people have never done this kind of exploration.  Knowing your values and staying in alignment with them is the foundation to creating a mission statement.  You can become clear on your values by reflecting on the following questions:

  • What values were instilled in you while growing up?
  • As you became a young adult, what changed?
  • What values were instilled in you by school or society?
  • What is important to you now?
  • Currently, how do you spend your time and money?
  • What is important to you in the workplace?
  • Are you working in an environment that aligns with your values?
  • What absolutely must be part of your life for you to feel like you are living in integrity?

Once you are clear on your personal and work values, the next step is to ask yourself what is your “why.” 

This is the basis of the mission statement.  Try to define who you are serving, what you do to serve, and how you do it.  Be as succinct and concise as possible.  Your statement should convey your passion, values, audience, and overall goal.  If you are clear on your values and mission, then it is almost effortless to stay grounded in your actions and behavior because everything in your life stays within scope.  Here are some example mission statements from the Franklin Covey and FastCompany websites.

Once you have created your statement do not be shy about sharing it with others to get their feedback.  If their suggestions resonate with you then make revisions.  It is your statement, so you get to experiment with it and refine it now or later.

People use their mission statement in various ways.  Depending on the length, how it is written, and your intent it can be used as a tagline or elevator speech.  You can add it to your resume or social media.  In coaching I help leaders understand how to weave their mission into their conversations for motivating others, branding, interviews, and discussions with senior leaders. 

So if you want to be a powerful influence for others, stay more grounded, achieve goals quicker, and define your brand then take some time to create your personal mission statement.  Doing so will put you in touch with your values and help you to succinctly articulate all that you are.     

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