Mission Statements and Other Self-Improvement Stuff

In this month’s CrossFit Journal, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman writes about his beliefs and experiences in personal fitness training. Three sentences jumped out at me:
“I view training as a physical metaphor for habits and attitudes that foster success in all arenas. … The lessons learned through physical training are unavoidable. … Perseverance, industry, sacrifice, self-control, integrity, honesty, and commitment are best and easiest learned in the gym.”
Maybe the third sentence is biased and full of hyperbole–after all, a music teacher could substitute “through musical training” for “in the gym.” It’s a sort of insert-your-favorite-discipline-here sentence. But I like the physical metaphor and the statement that with good physical training a person will learn about other aspects of herself or himself as well. That has proved true for me in 2005, as I found out that I not only enjoy the unique gym I belong to but that physical strength and skill seem to make me more confident in my personality too. (“Seem” because it could be the other way around, or the confidence could be caused by something else–but “seems” is all I have to go on.)
Also in the self-actualization vein, Fred linked to the GoalsGuy, a goals coach who writes about personal mission statements and other goal tools. For lack of time, I didn’t read too far into the GoalsGuy. Instead I’m quoting or paraphrasing here some of Fred’s favorites–the ones that are the most inspiring to me.
Be decisive. “Success is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you.”
This leads to the idea of a personal mission statement: “A mission statement imprints your values and purposes firmly in your mind so it becomes a part of you instead of something you might have thought about just casually in passing.” It seems grandiose to have a personal mission statement, but I think it’s a good tool for thinking about the direction of your life. It does take a direction whether you think consciously about it or not, so you might as well choose. The mission statement concept made me think about the most basic values I judge myself by. I realized that three of the four that come to mind off the top of my head relate to maintaining the integrity of a child. My mission statement would involve:
(1) Be honest about what I think and believe (though with added adult tact, I hope).
(2) Respond with a straight answer to what other people say. (Instead of making a joke, as adults often do, but children don’t.)
(3) Keep possession of skills and passions I learned as a child, such as art and music, tree-climbing, running, cartwheels and handstands, expressing myself through writing.
(4) Do what I say I’ll do.
Knowing my goals for my behavior is one thing. Meeting them requires another concept the GoalsGuy defines: staying focused. “A close relative to being decisive, but your ability to sustain your focus from beginning to end determines the timing and condition of your outcomes.” It doesn’t matter if I say those are my priorities. Only actions show what a person’s priorities really are. I suppose GoalsGuy is talking about quantifiable goals like finding a certain job or growing a business. My goals are more homespun but focus is important, especially for skills goals like guitar playing.