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The BEST way to craft your Mission Statement – and everyone needs one!

I have wasted many years being busy; not being purposeful.

I was reading a book entitled EntreLeadeship by Dave Ramsey. This is a personal how-to to develop your business by focusing on people. Since Ramsey runs an SME in the US, he requires team members (he does not call them staff) to have entrepreneurial leadership – the ability to take risks to build a thriving business, growing good teams along the way. He empowers his people and delegates responsibilities. He demands that everyone be passionate about the business because that drives results beyond the job description. As an entrepreneur myself, I totally subscribe to his thinking. While most of the book does not uncover anything new, it is a gem because it reminds us to do things that we thought that we already knew; things that we may have taken for granted. In this article, I focus on one of them – the personal mission statement.

I started my first entrepreneurial entity in 1996; and had been my own boss for the better part of the last 20 years, with the exception of the time in 2014 when I joined a largish training company as Chief Operating Officer for a year and a half. During all this time, I really cannot recall when I had a personal mission statement. As a business owner, obviously my mission was to work my behind off to make as much money for the company. As a trainer, I was focused on creating the best programme that I could develop. As the business developer, I was constantly looking for new opportunities. As the leader, I was constantly trying to bring my people to the next level. So one can say that I have always been very busy as the business owner. If being busy was my mission, then I think I’d score an A. But that is NOT a worthwhile mission. There is no tangible outcome to busyness. So reading Ramsey’s book reminded me I have not accomplished much more than hitting revenue targets. That, again, is not a mission.

Components of a personal mission statement

Ramsey quotes career coach and author of 48 Days to the Work that You Love, Dan Miller, who shares that a personal mission statement should contain the following components:

  1. Your skills and abilities

  2. Your personality traits, and

  3. Your values, dreams and passions

So, for the very first time, I will attempt to develop my personal mission statement in this article “live” – meaning I will use this post to annotate my thoughts, and from there, derive my personal mission statement without censoring any thoughts. Let us see where this leads me to, and hopefully, we will learn something new...

My skills and abilities

I have been a teacher all my life, although not mainstream. I started teaching by tutoring school kids while I was in university. I didn’t do it for the money because I was employed by the government and was on scholarship, so that was illegal. Instead, I did it because I was asked to help. Soon I became very good at it, and found that I could explain science and maths concepts very well – much better than the textbooks, and much better than many school teachers. I normally break concepts down into bite-sized elements, giving them a real-world feel to it. I use first principles in explaining everything so that my students could always go back to the fundamentals and work their way back up whenever they forgot certain formulas. I was using diagrams to explain maths concepts long before these were introduced in primary school – yes, it had been THAT long ago! When I got married, many of my nephews and nieces came through me for maths and science tuition, and most of them scored A. It is therefore not surprising that I am now in the business of teaching. I use my skills and abilities to teach business and cognitive ideas from first principles and in ways that are NOT mainstream. So I suppose that should be an element of my personal mission statement.

My personality traits

I am lucky that I have an assessment system called the Success Quotient Intelligence to identify behavioural traits in users, so I know for sure what my traits are. My key traits are my strategic thinking ability, my risk appetite, my speed of execution, and on the downside, my lack of detail orientation. As one who embraces the hypothesis-driven process, I am comfortable going into a business opportunity, or a situation, without having all the information. (I suppose my lack of detail orientation helps here!) All I do is limit the downside, and from there, look and learn. I am comfortable navigating in the dark, preferring to trust my own judgement, my own abilities, to get me there. I never blame anyone for where I end up, because I have depended on my own skills to get me there. If there was anyone to blame, it would be me. Interestingly enough, there are not many people with these traits and it means that there is an opportunity for me to link the two together – my ability to teach and my ability to navigate in uncertainty – to develop my mission statement. Hmmm...things seem to be shaping up here.