I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the summer before my first year and second year teaching. Central to this book’s argument is that as people, we should lead principle centered lives, not outcomes centered lives, because principles are foundational to who we are and should be used to guide all other decisions.
As a result, I drafted the first version of my personal mission statement. Since then, it’s become a living document that I refer to at least once a month, and that I think about constantly when I need to make big decisions. I am now comfortable enough with where it is that I’d like to share it with a wider community as a way to publicly commit to living a principle centered life based on the principles that I’ve outlined.
Now, this is an incredibly personal post, so please forgive me for turning off the comments on this one. Most of the time, I welcome all comments as long as they are civil because my goal is to promote healthy dialogue from multiple stakeholders. However, in this case I share, not to promote dialogue, but, like I mentioned earlier, to publicly commit for myself, personally. If you do have comments, though, feel free to email me and I will respond there.
My Personal Mission Statement
I believe that people are inherently good, that there is an abundance of joy and success to share, and that we have a responsibility to the world-wide community, past, present, and future.
I will be principle centered, having at my core a reservoir of unchanging principles by which I live my life, no matter what the external circumstances, financial, social, or otherwise, may be.
- I will live a growth mindset in all domains of life: academic, work, creative, social, character. I know that I can improve in everything, I just need to seek the knowledge, the skills, and WANT to improve. I also know the same is true of others, so I choose to see potential and promise, not merely problems.
- I will be a person of integrity, someone who always tells the truth, who immediately owns up to mistakes, and who follows through on commitments of character and action.
- I will put people first, their growth, their well-being. I will have always their 10, 20, 30 year development in mind, not what I want them to do for me in just the next hour, day, or even year.
- I will be humble, putting the greater good before all else and building up others, not myself. I will look in the mirror before I look in the magnifying glass, reacting to setbacks and situations by trying to change myself, not by trying to change others.
- I will be a strength-finder, someone who seeks to illuminate the best in other people.
- I will be a team-builder. I will connect people who complement each others’ strengths, find the place where I most benefit the team, regardless of where that may be, and trust and build trust.
- I will be sustainable. I will take care of myself to be a model of how others can be. I will take care of the planet and work towards systems in which sustainability is made default by environment. I will encourage others to be sustainable as well.
These are the roles I’ve chosen for myself in life and how I live out my beliefs and principles through them:
- Blogger — I will always ask questions, always question assumptions, always learn and grow and build more complete pictures of the world, the truth, and the way it is organized, then share this with others.
- Connector — I will proactively connect friends and acquaintances with people and resources that will benefit them. I put people first. I get to know each friend as an individual so that I can speak to his or her strengths and preferences. I connect friends with one another so that we can be a web of relationships. My friend groups open outward instead of close inward. I am tolerant and accepting as well as direct.
- Designer — I aspire to design beautiful processes and products that solve big problems and make people’s lives better.
- Educator — I develop in children the academic skills, character traits, and habits of mind necessary to be successful, conscientious, and dedicated builders of a better tomorrow for not only themselves, but for their families, communities, and world as well. My children will fight for, and receive, the freedom of choice, and have the wisdom to make the right choice.
- Family member — I support my siblings so that they can be their best. I support my parents so that they can lead healthy and happy lives. I value our time together.
- Forward thinker — I see what is possible while acknowledging the brutal truths of the here and now. I set goals for myself and set out to achieve those goals. I care for a world and planet, country and state, city and community, fifty years down the line and not just five years down the line. I dream. I build a movement of people who dream that dream with me, and together we create the conditions that make our dream a reality.
- Personal Developer — I renew my body, mind, emotions, and spirit every day. I listen to the rhythms of my body. I value myself. I value my energy.
- Professional Developer — I approach my work with deep humility and the desire to learn. I seek self-improvement and think of my work as crucial but my job as just how I’m doing that work at that moment. I project five years into the future to prioritize the questions I want to answer and the skills I want to learn.
- Significant other — My significant other is the most important person in the world to me. We are each other’s number ones. We complement each other’s strengths and draw out the best in each other. We are each other’s trusted advisors. I will always value this relationship and cultivate it, never taking it for granted. Love is a choice and I choose to love him.
These are my specific, methodical, and consistent actions that help me execute on my beliefs and principles (term is taken from Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen):
- Do My Research — Before I complete any project or task, I look first to others for resources and leads so that I’m not starting from scratch.
- Fire Bullets, then Cannonballs — Before I commit all out to something, I’ll try it out first in an easy, low-risk way.
- Single Task — I focus on executing one thing at a time, and executing it well.
- 20 Mile March — I build habits and consistently accomplish my 20 mile march regardless of how easy or hard it is each time. Currently, my 20 mile march’s include:
- Writing one blog post a week
- Creating something every day
- Reading one professional and one personal book at a time
- Reflecting every night
There are the specific ways I’ve learned how I want to spend my day which are consistent with my beliefs, principles, preferences and roles.
- I like to spend my day learning
- I like to spend my day solving big problems with a long time horizon
- I like to spend my day creating
- I need to be working with a team that’s aligned and mission focused