This is the second time I’ve posted my personal mission statement. The first time I did not open the post to comments, but this second time I will. While my personal mission statement continues to be intensely personal, I am now at the place where I’m comfortable enough with it to be accepting of comments, feedback, and questions — I simply ask that the discussion is respectful and honest.
In the time since I first posted my personal mission statement, the greatest developments in my life have been:
- A fulfillment of my ambition to become an entrepreneur
- A deeper understanding of what it means to build and sustain community
- A recognition that we are no longer living in the Information Age, but in the Network Age, instead, and that this Age represents as fundamental a shift as any shifts we’ve experienced in the past
- An acknowledgement that the things I can change include, not only myself, but the contexts in which I work and live as well, and
- A developing ability to read underlying motivations and emotions, map power dynamics, and hear what is being left unsaid
With those notes in mind, here is my personal mission statement, take two:
My Personal Mission Statement
I believe that people are inherently good, that there is an abundance of love and joy 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 anything, 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 always have their 10, 20, 30 year development in mind, not what I want them to do or be 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 or my context, 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 tenacious. I make things happen by sheer force of will.
- I will lead by example. I will serve. My highest expectations are for myself.
- I will be sustainable. I take care of myself to be a model of how others can be. I take care of the planet and work towards systems in which sustainability is made default by environment. I encourage others to be sustainable as well.
- I will be insatiably curious. I will never think I know it all. I will always approach problems with a beginner’s mindset. I will never fail to ask questions. I will never fail to change my mind if the data gathered says that my previous conclusions need revision.
- I will be need specific but solution agnostic. I know there’s a win-win, or a win-walk away, in all situations.
These roles take priority in fulfilling my vision and achieving my mission:
- Blogger — I 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. I share these pictures with others.
- Connector — I proactively connect people with resources that will benefit them. I put people first. I get to know each person I encounter as an individual so that I can speak to his or her strengths and preferences. I connect people with one another so that we can be a web of relationships. My network opens outward instead of closing 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 people the academic skills, character traits, and habits of mind necessary to be successful, conscientious, and dedicated builders of a better tomorrow for themselves, their families, their communities, and the world as well. My children will fight for, and receive, the freedom of choice, and the wisdom to make those choices well.
- Entrepreneur — I see what is possible while acknowledging the brutal truths of the here and now. I set goals for myself and my team and set out to achieve those goals. I care for our world and planet, country and state, city and community, fifty years down the line, 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.
- 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.
- 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 weaknesses and draw out each other’s strengths. We are better versions of ourselves, together. 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:
- Know Myself — I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know my preferences. I know when I do my best work. I know how much social stimulation I can handle before I need to rejuvenate. I know what brings me happiness and what brings me sadness. I know my pet peeves. I am constantly in the process of knowing myself more fully so that I can advocate for my own needs, trust in my decisions, and continue refining myself to become the best version of me that I can be.
- Give Before I Get — I always look to add value to others in ways that are consistent with my vision, mission, and principles. I do not expect anything back immediately or personally. Instead, I trust that the value I add will be multiplied and amplified by the work of others who are doing good in the world.
- 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.
- Sweep the Searchlight — I will try to illuminate my blindspots. I will try to see the things I don’t know I don’t know.
- 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.
- Look for Disconfirming Evidence — I actively seek to find evidence that disagrees with my assumptions.
- Identify the Problem Worth Solving and the Team That’s Capable of Solving It — I dig deep to understand problems before ever having the audacity to propose solutions. I actively work to identify that catalytic mix of skill sets, mindsets, experiences, motivations, and life circumstances necessary in the team that will be able to solve the problem. I give ideas away; I coach; I have no sense of ownership over the ideas I generate. Ideas are owned by the people who actually do the work, not the people who initially dreamed them up.
- Assume Nothing — I don’t know what I don’t know. Before I draw any conclusions, I do my best to probe and inquire.
- Have Empathy — I see things from other people’s perspectives. I try to put myself in their shoes. I try not to project my own preferences and interpretations on others.
- Treat Others the Way They Want To Be Treated — I treat people the way they want to be treated, not the way I want to be treated.
- Do Nothing That Is Not Play — Life is meant to be enjoyed. My work is play and my play is work. Life is too short to be spent doing things I don’t find fun, fulfilling, challenging, impactful, and meaningful.
- Be Direct with Respect — The people around me will always know where they stand, what my opinions of them are, and when they impress as well as when they disappoint. I will never say things about a person to other people that I won’t say to that person directly, and, I hope for the same level of directness and respect from those around me as well.
- Solicit Feedback — I actively ask others how I’m being perceived, to what extent I met expectations, and where I can improve.
- Celebrate Differences — I don’t just tolerate differences, I celebrate them. Differences are beautiful. They provide meaning in relationships, fuel for innovation, and endless opportunities for learning and growth.
- Love — I genuinely love myself and I genuinely love others. I want everyone I interact with, whether it’s the doorman at WeWork or my significant other, to love themselves even more as a result of my affirming of who they are and why they are important.
- Try Everything Once, So Long as It Does Not Carry a Significant Risk of Harming Myself or Others — This is how I live a life of no regrets. We are much more likely to regret the chance not taken than the chance we take, whether or not that chance turned out to be for the better or the worse, because the chance we take ultimately shapes who we are, whereas the chance not taken represents the person we could have, but did not, become.
- Be Excellent — I am thorough and conscientious in everything I do. When I make mistakes, I immediately apologize and do everything in my power to solve the problem and learn from the experience. I never make the same mistake twice.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver — I’m honest about my strengths and my areas of growth. I never promise what I cannot deliver. I set realistic expectations I know that I can meet while actively working to exceed them.
- Go First — Before I’m asked to do something, I volunteer to do it. I empathize, I offer. If someone is coughing, I ask if they need water. If a customer is unhappy, I ask if they’d like a refund. If someone seems on the verge of tears, I let them know that I will listen.
- My 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 marches include:
- Walking / Running every weekday
- Reading every day
- Writing 10 ideas every day
- Reflecting every day
- Sleeping seven hours every night
This is what I choose to do, every day.
- I learn
- I solve problems with a long time horizon
- I dream audacious dreams
- I work in small, collaborative teams of people who are all driving towards a common vision and mission
- My mornings are creative, afternoons collaborative, evenings connective, and nights reflective
- I help others
*My role as a significant other remains the same regardless of whether or not I’m currently in a relationship. I choose to keep this role because I know that this is who I aspire to be, regardless of my current relationship status.