My husband is fanatical about Tesla. Whenever we are (trapped) together in his Nissan Leaf, he goes off about something Elan said, or how many Model 3s rolled off the assembly line this week, or what new Tesla model is in design. He said something recently, though, that captured my imagination. He told me Tesla’s mission statement. Check it out: Tesla’s corporate mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Bam! Succinct. Comprehensive. Comprehensible. Perfect. We immediately started writing our own personal mission statements. (The Leaf has a 90-mile range, so we had some time between charging stations.) Mine, after several iterations, is “to further human potential through the writing I do for myself and others.” Sure it sounds grandiose, but it makes me happy, so I know it must be my real calling, my nature.
The Personal Mission Statement is a relatively new concept to me. I’ve worked for organizations with great mission statements, but I had not thought of these statements as personal affirmations. While I’ve had a general idea of my path, my job, my calling my whole life, I had never before winnowed it down to such a pithy phrase. (My best friend pointed out to me that the abbreviation for personal mission statement is PMS, but I still love the concept!)
Crafting your Personal Mission Statement takes time, awareness, and attention. I can’t tell you how many of my clients grouse about how hard it is to write about themselves. It’s much more enjoyable to write great things about others.
This is my job. In the writing, resumes, and LinkedIn profiles I review every year, I easily extract the overarching common denominators in my clients and get down to the nitty gritty of who they really are, which points to the underlying reason why they do they work they do.
This is the way I approach career communications. I use the resume (CV, LinkedIn profile, bio, etc) as a way to help my clients define their Personal Mission Statement. Once you know your PMS (you win, Tony!), it becomes easier to decide where to go when you’re ready to make a job change, a career change, or a life change.
Here’s an example. For several years, I owned my own welding shop called Jane and Tom’s Welding. (Tommy was my yellow lab then.) I still love welding. I love the idea that something as strong as steel can become malleable, even liquid. The romance of this kind of alchemy still speaks to me. I sometimes wonder if I should take it up again. But when I juxtapose welding and my PMS, it’s pretty clear that welding could only ever be a great avocation for me. I’m a writer. Full stop. I’m many other things: a biker, a Baroque music junkie, a cook, a kayaker. But these things are just fodder for my writing.
Once you identify and hone your Personal Mission Statement, you’ll know which jobs you should be applying for, what work experience you should include in your resume, what to include in your LinkedIn profile summary, even what to wear. (I’m kidding about this last part, though I do sometimes have hankering for a cardigan sweater and a beret.)
Simple, right? Not exactly. Defining and embodying your PMS is the whole point of your career, life, education, evolution…How do you distill your life’s calling into a short sentence? I recommend journaling and keeping a little notebook in your pocket or purse or on your dashboard. Inspiration strikes at odd moments, be prepared to catch it when it does.
But that kernel of who you really are can be elusive. It’s that forest-for-the-trees problem; you’re too close to it. That’s when it’s time to talk to a writer like me or a coach like my colleagues at FromWithin. The New Year is almost here.