The Union Club’s GM/COO, Lawrence McFadden, CMC, believes that a personal mission statement will bring focus and purpose to your life and career.
An individual’s mission should not be confused with personality traits or characteristics. Clearly defined missions are a guide for an individual’s brand, vision or future. Establishing a mission statement can be just as effective in one’s personal life as it is for a business enterprise. In fact, most successful companies develop a mission and then revisit, revise and adapt the mission statement multiple times during the life of the business.
My personal mission statement is “health, provider, lifetime learner.” Both personal and professional goals can align with these four words. A mission isn’t something you should have to necessarily read daily, write down in various locations, or promise yourself annually. Often the most effective missions are innately found in your DNA and fit naturally within your vision of life.
When taking the Certified Master Chef examination in 2001, successfully passing wasn’t the mission; it was the goal. I was less passionate about the business case my organization’s then Vice President and I put together should I successfully pass the examination than I was intent on continuing to be a lifetime learner and potential for a better salary and career advancement through advanced professional recognition.
Even if not successful in the examination, some of the key characteristics in my mission would still have been fulfilled. Regardless, I had met the mission of an exercised body and mind in preparation for the grueling test, tremendous amount of new culinary knowledge gained and the emotional courage of placing myself on the learning stage of a challenge.
A partner in Singapore used to quote these same four simple words often in strategic meetings when team members would get side-tracked or marred in problem-solving tasks. These words can be liberating and motivating if taken in the right context. Pushing us not to quit, moving solutions forward and satisfying conclusions of the situation. He liberated the team by acknowledging that without problems, missions can’t be satisfied.
In a recent spin class, I was “on the rivets.” This standard Peloton term describes expelling maximum energy while your tailbone is pushing against the nose of the saddle. The closer to the edge, the more energy you are demanding before you finally “blow up” and transition back to the flat part of the saddle as you release the effort and drift off the pace. During these physical conflicting mental discomforts, it reminds you that better health is the mission letting the suffering to be tolerated.
Stephen Covey would call a clear mission, “having the end in mind,” through the vision of direction while not always knowing the exact path. This reminds me of my kitchen days when I called quality achievements a chapter in the book of excellence.
The great company Talent Plus measures your natural skills which are hard-wired into your DNA while noting the softer skills of the individuals. Its theory is that you will always be better at tasks involving your natural abilities, those innate feelings that you gravitate to, and most often spend less enjoyment or time with than the softer natural skills. Traditionally, one mission statement or mission core value should probably be found in these personality traits or high-performance characteristics.
Age, sex, ethnicity, or other factors should never play a part in your mission, as the mission is the path for empowerment and progress. Should you find yourself checking off the terms of the mission statement, then those descriptors might be more of a goal or plan and may be too broad for a true mission.
In my case, lifetime learning has helped me when reinventing my professional career from the kitchen to the back of the house to the corporate table. While perhaps never being as good a General Manager as Executive Chef, I certainly couldn’t argue that I had learned more for making those transitions.
In this case, as NASA would say, “Mission accomplished. We have a man on the moon.”