Personal Mission Statement LO12777

Myers, Kent (
Thu, 6 Mar 1997 10:26:50 -0500

Replying to LO12767 --

You have thought about personal mission enough to know two things: it is
best to live holistically, and much will have to be said through
implication. Once you have established that, then I think what is missing
is some indication of your distinctive contribution. Some people say that
should be handled in a separate "vision" statement, but that demotes the
"mission" to something workaday, and lets the vision become frothy. A
"calling" statement seems to split the difference, puts emphasis back on
action, and takes the emphasis away from form. I find a personal
statement useful if it reminds me of what I want to accomplish that is
distinctive, so that I am not dissipated in everything else that is good.

Your mission statement, I fear, covers all goods. If you paid the bills
and brushed your teeth, you could go to bed content that you had
contributed to your mission. I'm not arguing against brushing your teeth
-- but it is a good that could be handled by implication. Or rather, it
is a good that could be handled through Covey's other universal approach,
his 7 habits. Even there, a little poetry can generate more enthusiasm
than a neutral, accurate category. Covey's image of "sharpening the saw"
has been extremely helpful to me, but I would not have remembered or been
moved by "personal maintenance". (Maybe "animal maintenance" would have
worked too. Did Covey use that quotation, "First, be a good animal."?)

My recommendation is to keep your statement as something like a process
description. It is 'complete' in the sense that it keeps your family
going. But I'm sure you have some activity that really turns you on,
where you have been quietly trying to make a contribution or deepen your
knowledge for many years. Isn't that your calling? I'd use this as an
indicator: if you are reluctant to share this information with others, for
fear that you will be criticized for not achieved much of it, or for fear
that others will not find it important or interesting, then you are close.
It doesn't have to be a professional activity, just something that is
serious and keeps coming back.


Kent Myers

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