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The Purpose Of A Personal Mission Statement

1147978_vintage_fountain_pen_2Last summer, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book radically impacted me and helped me to begin becoming much more organized. This week, I was talking with a friend about his auto repair business. I asked him why he had to be at the shop all day every day. He told me it was because when he’s not here, the guys who work there don’t do a great job of greeting the customers.

I remembered reading Stephen Covey’s account of a great customer service experience he had in a business. Upon asking why it was that they had such a welcoming environment, he found that the company had a mission statement. On top of that, each individual store had a mission statement. On top of that, each employee had a personal mission statement. The store’s mission statement was based on the input of each employee. When someone new was hired, they revised the store’s statement. Talk about getting people to buy into your program!

So I suggested to him that he consider doing something like that. I also used Timothy Ferriss’ ideas about outsourcing and recommended he look into hiring a personal assistant to come in and do cleaning and filing in the morning, and part of that person’s job description includes greeting every customer who comes by the store. I suggested he might get his 12-year old daughter (who was one of my students last year) to greet people for even $3 an hour.

These are things that he could do to ensure a happier work environment for the employees, a happier customer experience, and allow him time to buy and fix up houses, which is something he loves doing. This could create a higher cash flow for him, and possibly allow him to hire a business manager for the sho, freeing up even more time and creating more jobs. Stephen Covey calls this a win-win situation.

How does this apply to me?
Based on some comments in a previous article, I was asked this week about whether or not I have a personal mission statement. I have actually never formally written one. After the discussion I had this week and her comment, I very well think I may spend some time this weekend coming up with one.

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

9 thoughts on “The Purpose Of A Personal Mission Statement

  1. Great minds think alike. I’ve been considering the same the past couple of weeks as well. In the military each unit is different, but each unit has a mission statement and each person has an annual evaluation. Part of that annual evaluation is a job description which is something of a mission statement, and it can get down into the weeds. From Private to General, they all have duty descriptions. Additionally, each evaluation lists areas that are of particular focus.

    Furthermore, each soldier (and officers) receive a periodic counseling. This is dependent on rank. For lower enlisted soldiers, it’s every month; for NCOs (Sergeants), it’s quarterly; and for officers, it’s biannually. Within the counseling for enlisted and NCOs there is a place for areas that need emphasis or improvement (it’s been a while since I’ve seen one so I’ve forgotten the correct titles).

    I had one boss who really had us go the distance on this quarterly evaluation (he evaluated everyone quarterly – including the officers). He had us come up with an excel spreadsheet of what are individual mission was based on guidance he gave us. He then wanted us to separate it down to individual sub-elements and then we had to list exact ways we were going to achieve each sub-element and thereby achieve the end-state goal. He also wanted to see a five year plan, which he would help us achieve if possible.

    He was the best boss I ever had. I never had someone give such good guidance in all my 21 years. I wish I still had that spreadsheet around, I’d email it to you to show you what I mean.

  2. I have to check out that book…I’m actually embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read it yet (working on my doctorate has drastically cut into the reading-for-me time!!). And I think I’m going to encourage my husband to read it too- he wants to open his own bar some day and I really appreciated your anecdote about your friend and his auto-shop.


  3. Now Joel….
    I suppose I could come up with something else. Perhaps the Jazzy Joel Award. Tell your people to get with my people, and we’ll get this worked out.

  4. We’ll see what happens. Strep throat seems to have gotten the best of me and I really don’t feel like doing ANYTHING right now. I guess I’ll see how well this medicine works and how industrious I get this weekend.

  5. I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well. Strep throat – what a bummer! Rest, and take care of yourself. We’ll be here when you return to writing.:)

  6. Dr. Leon Meade was my favorite teacher in high school. I enjoyed him so much, I took four different classes taught by him (two were electives).

    Dr. Meade’s dissertation for Columbia University in the 1930’s was on the importance of primary and secondary education and why more teachers holding advanced degrees should consider teaching at that level rather than university. Dr. Meade could have been an outstanding college professor, but instead, he was dedicated to introducing critical thinking skills to his high school students. He not only talked the talk, but walked the walk.

    In addition, each class we had with him followed his personal mission statement: To Improve the Dignity of the Common Man.

    Everything we discussed and debated was measured against this.

    Even today, when I watch the news or study history, I pause and think how it affected the everyday person. It helps me put things into perspective.

    Obviously his mission lives on through his students.

    So yes, I think a mission statement is important to both you and your students. Keep it simple and consistent.

  7. Tour Marm:

    That is awesome. You’ve inspired me. I will try to work on a succinct mission statement either tonight or tomorrow. I seem to be slowly starting to feel a little better. Just keep resting…

  8. Update: I was looking through the blog and realized I never posted my personal mission statement on here. It will be coming soon. Hang in there! :)

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