“To teach and be known for inspiring my ‘students’ to surpass themselves.” Can you guess who this personal mission statement belongs to? If Oprah comes to mind, you’re right on the mark. Like companies, many business personalities have thought about their “why” and committed it to paper.
Author and leadership expert Simon Sinek puts mission at the heart of organizations’ and individuals’ actions. It’s simple! Your personal mission – your “why” – gives meaning to what you do and helps you make better decisions. If you put this question to the leaders of the Ambition Challenge, one of our training programs, they’d tell you that your personal mission saves you from hollow victories or from waking up at some point in your career wondering “what am I doing here?” In other words, your personal mission lets you identify what you really want to accomplish in life based on your values, strengths, achievements, and passions.
Do you know your “why”? Here are four questions to help you define it.
Before starting the activity… Think carefully about the questions below. Sinek explains that defining a personal mission is mostly done by looking back, not by looking ahead. You’ll need to be introspective and honest, and humble. For better perspective, Sinek suggests doing the activity with the help of your closest friends.
1. What causes do you support?
Your personal mission should uplift you, not be based on a selfish motive. Think about times when you felt the most useful and ask yourself why you felt this way.
Some questions to fuel your thinking: What have you brought to those around you? What impact have you had at work, in your community, or in your personal life? What are your values? Go through your past contributions and list the things you seek to inspire in people.
2. What are your best moves?
Figure out the things you excel at. Analyze your most recent successes and the results that professional reputation is built on.
Some questions to fuel your thinking: What are your strengths? What do others admire in you? What natural talents have you mastered almost effortlessly? If your friends can’t help you, ask for feedback from your colleagues.
3. What are you passionate about?
To give you a reason to wake up energized each morning, your personal mission needs to align with your interests. Then, you balance what you care about with what you can do to help others.
Questions to fuel your thinking: What tasks motivate you the most? Who do you like spending time with? What are your favourite brands and hobbies? Don’t focus too much on the “what”. Instead, try to find the common denominator of your passions and interests.
4. What are your goals?
Even though Sinek insists on the importance of the past for identifying your personal mission, charting your dream path can guide your thinking. Determining your short- and long-term priorities comes down to refining your vision. This means creating a clear picture of the future, just like a company would. According to authors and strategic planners Dominic Deneault and Guy Barthell who have worked with the leaders of 25 flagship Quebec companies, including Première Moisson President Liliane Colpron, your vision – or goal – must be so appealing that it drives you to take risks and leap into action.
Questions to fuel you thinking: What responsibilities are you seeking to take on? What type of business person, colleague, parent, spouse, or friend do you hope to be? If your vision isn’t clear, ask yourself what you most want to avoid. Thinking of the worst outcomes will help you envision the best-case scenarios for your life.
By the time you complete this activity, which can’t be done overnight, you’ll likely have learned things you never knew or realized about yourself. You’ll be able to write a short mission statement that’s right for you and will help you make informed choices for your career. Like Oprah, you’ll discover what brings meaning to your personal and professional life.