Personal Mission Statements: A Two-Pronged Approach

BaobabIs it possible to create a mission statement with true meaning and value, i.e., one that actually “guides” you as a leader or person? I’ve facilitated my fair share of mission statement building sessions and more often than not the statements get left behind in the conference room with the stale coffee and doughnut remnants.

Recently however, I came across the book, The Path by Laurie Beth Jones. In it, Jones asks readers to define their CAUSE. What jumpstarts your day, ignites your fire, get you excited enough that you race to pursue opportunities around it? Your job isn’t always your cause, but it can be. For example, my cause is transforming the lives of senior leaders in small/medium-sized businesses. I have a true passion that I’ve been able to translate into an amazing career, doing what I love.

I found, however, that The Path’s template only worked for leaders like myself who were driven by a well-defined cause. Without a cause, people struggled to define their mission. After much research and testing, I developed a two-prong approach, dividing leaders into either a “cause-driven” or “values-driven” approach.

CAUSE-DRIVEN. A cause-driven direction speaks to your overriding passion but doesn’t define how you life your life. For example, here’s my cause-driven mission statement: To transform the lives of leaders through awareness, insight and action.

VALUES-DRIVEN. A values-driven statement speaks to how a person conducts himself or herself in life. Here’s an example of a values-driven mission statement: I offer grace and kindness to everyone I touch, living each day mindfully, modeling strength of character and high integrity.

I used to think values-driven statements were too “soft” to be useful, but many would argue they are more powerful than cause-driven statements as people who define their mission by a set of values will apply that purpose, or reason for being, to whatever is going on in their life.

I encourage every leader—and person—to create a personal mission statement they can turn to in times of doubt. Having clarity around your passion or values can save you sleepless nights and allow you to move into the correct guiding question in order to make sound decisions.

If you’d like a template to create a personal mission statement, the attached tool will provide you with everything you need to create your own cause-driven or value-driven statement. Once you craft your personal mission statement, I invite you to share it here.