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7 Mission Statement Lessons I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago

Stop everything you are doing and work on your mission statement!

Last week, I shared about using your skills, your traits and your vision to create your personal mission statement. I also created mine “live” and obtained a mission statement that blew my mind, and which is now driving a lot of what I am doing. In fact, within four days of that exercise, I had developed a curriculum for late-forties, early-fifties PMEs to start their own business (and of course the mission statement will feature very strongly there!), designed the marketing brochure, gave it pride of place in our website (it has its own webpage at!pme-prestige/dns12) and created the operational plan to get this going. This may well be flying in the face of government plans to help this very same group of people, but I have one thing going for me that they don’t – I am of the same age group as my target, and in the same position, achieving the very things they are hoping to achieve. So that is what a personal mission statement does for people!

But I digress; this article is not for me to report my progress. Instead, I learnt seven crucial lessons in creating my personal mission statement which I wish I had known 20 years ago! They are not rocket science, and to many, they are obvious. But sometimes we miss even the most obvious things in life. I hope that by sharing these obvious lessons learnt, you can extract all that the mission statement can offer much sooner than I had!

1. It should have been done earlier

I suppose it goes without saying that I should have done this much earlier! Seeing the impact it has on my thinking, and the meaning it has given to my busyness (as well as my business), it is such a BIG waste to have waited until now to do this! This despite the fact that I tell others that they need to have focus and a goal – a mission in life – to be effective. It is akin to an obese doctor telling his patient to lose weight to bring down his blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I suppose I thought I was immune to this need, since I was teaching it. I suspect that it also has a lot to do with my education and intellect (read as “ego”). After all, this is such a simple activity, something that I don’t really need to spend so much time on to get; and if it’s that simple, it’s probably not for me. WRONG! Everyone needs to do this, without exception; and the sooner the better! If you are reading this, and you don’t have your personal mission statement, STOP READING NOW AND WORK ON YOUR MISSION STATEMENT IMMEDIATELY! You can thank me later.

2. It should be updated constantly

So you have done your mission statement, well done! But that is only just the beginning because you need to constantly update it. Just as your behavioural traits and personal circumstances can change over time, so too your mission statement; and you will therefore have to refocus. Or perhaps you have already achieved what you had set out to do when you created your last mission statement and now need to look for new vistas? Because things change rapidly, we need to look at our mission periodically and update it. Review it quarterly to see how things are proceeding and what changes you need to put into it, before agreeing that there is no change and the mission remains intact. And if it needs changing, then do it quickly and start down a new road ASAP!

3. It should be done in all honesty

Looking at the three aspects of my life – skills, traits and vision – and then creating my mission statement requires me to be truthful to myself. After all, if we are dishonest with ourself, and we use the wrong inputs for our mission statement, we will end up somewhere really far from where we should be! Since you don’t need to share this with anyone you are not comfortable with (but you do have to share it, and we will talk about that shortly), you don’t have to hide from the truth. If you have something you are not proud of but which impacts your mission greatly, acknowledge it and then do something about it. Instead of running away from the truth, you need to face up to it, learn from it, and put in actions to overcome it. This will make your mission statement more robust, more real, and more exciting. You will also be giving yourself an opportunity to do things better, and that is very invigorating. Your mission statement must liberate you from the tyrannies of the past, and for that to happen, you need to work on it in all honesty.

4. It should have accompanying goals

A mission statement without concomitant goals will be as hollow as a book cover without the story. You need to populate your mission statement with goals that will help you move towards accomplishing your mission. We will not be going into the constituents of goal setting in this article, but we will do that very soon. Suffice it to say for now that the clearer you are about your mission, the clearer you are about how you are going to get there, the clearer you are about the resources you will need to pour into it, the higher your chances of success. And that is what all of us are working towards, aren’t we – a successful mission?

5. It should be in writing

This is again where I fell short previously. It was bad enough that I thought I knew what my mission was and didn’t feel the need to articulate it clearly, it was worse that it was not written down! This means that working out your mission statement mentally will not do. If it is not written down, it will not be committed to. Also, when we are working with thoughts, it pays to write it down, as I had done in the previous article. You don’t need to do it the way I did, but there is a need to write down all the points so that you can see the flow