Hi, this is Matt. This is Mental Model Monday number 18. Today I want to talk about having a mission statement. A mission statement is some sort of document that states your ideal self, your ideal identity and the current position you’re at. And I’ve had a mission statement since I was about 13 years old, though, when I first read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And my mission statement has gone through in that time probably five, six, maybe even seven major revisions, sort of a complete re-imagining of what my mission statement was and how it operated and who I was within that mission statement.
So there’s sort of two schools of thought when it comes to identity and creating an identity for yourself. One is that you should keep your identity very small, and this has a number of cognitive benefits around being very willing to change your mind about things, being very open to new ideas. The other is that you should be very careful about your identity and very clear and consistent on what you want your identity to be, but be very religious about keeping that. That’s the sort of mission statement side of things.
And the power there is that those same cognitive biases that cause you to not let go of ideas are really powerful for actually creating the behaviors that you want in yourself. So if you can create a mission statement that really gets across the core parts of your identity, that are the person who you want to be, then you end up with something as you read this mission statement and you make this your identity, you end up with something where you’re sort of automatically espousing, or not espousing, but producing the behaviors that you want because you’ve carefully curated your identity to be something that produces those behaviors.
I think both models are useful, right? Some models are useful, all models are false. I really think that the people who are part of the small identity camp should play around with this mission statement idea. I’m at a place in my life now, having done 15 years with creating a mission statement, systematically working on myself to try and accomplish that mission statement, accomplishing that mission statement, printing a new mission statement that brings in more power and more core of who I am and all the things I’ve learned along the way.
I’m at a place in my life now where I’m very, very happy with who I am. I’m pretty much the person I want to be and all the ways that I’m not the person I want to be, I am working actively to become the person I want to be. And when I become that person, I’m confident that there will be more growth potential, more places to explore, I’ll get to that level and from that level I’ll be able to see new heights.
When writing a mission statement, one thing I think it’s very important to get in touch with is what Martha Beck calls your essential no and your essential yes. The Center for Applied Rationality calls this taste, which is a similar idea. So the idea is, think about times in your life when things were just flowing, when you were with people that you love, when you were doing projects that you loved, when everywhere you looked, you just seemed to be lucky, you knew the right things to say, you knew the right thing to do, and think about the feeling in your body that you get when you’re in those situations.
Now think of the reverse situations, where you’re in a spot where you were playing to your weaknesses, where you were with people that you didn’t enjoy, where you just felt stressed out for no reason. Think of sort of a situation in which all of these are happening at once and feel the feeling in your body. This is your essential no. This is sort of looking at your intuitions and your internal system one feelings and by imagining the worst and the best case scenarios for yourself, you can really get a feeling of what the essential yes and what the essential no feels like.
Now if you put words to that essential yes or a picture to that essential yes, that is your mission statement. Similarly, things you do that … is actions that you take that bring you that essential no, those are probably rules you could create for yourself in your mission statement about things you will not do.
So the mission statement is really about guidelines to act within. What will I do, who do I want to be; what won’t I do, who don’t I want to be. There’s several exercises you can go … Once you’ve got this idea of the essential yes and the essential no, there’s several exercises you can do to start generating things to go in your mission statement. One thing you can do is imagine that you’re at a funeral and someone’s giving a eulogy for you. What do you want them to say? One idea that was really powerful for me at one point in my life is, he brought out the best in others, and that’s really shaped how I interact, the type of person I am. Not just being an amazing person, but being a person who lets others be amazing around me, has really shaped my interaction style and how I behave.
You can also use the miracle question from solution focused therapy. So if a miracle occurred, and all the things in your life were different, what’s the first small change you would notice? In this case, what’s the first small change you would notice in yourself, because remember this mission statement is based on identity. So what’s the first small change you would notice in yourself? That might something you can start changing right away.
So whenever I do a new mission statement, I’m doing a new set of things I’m becoming, I typically will post a list of the emotional states I want to be in and I’ll work with things like anchoring, which went into other process to create those states. I’ll post limiting beliefs and I’ll use things like mental countering, the left lobe relief process, core transformation, to start working on shifting those beliefs, so that I can believe I am the type of person who’s becoming this mission statement.
So in terms of where I’m at now, I have sort of four architects in my mission statement. I have a divine child, who sort of loves themselves, loves life, is not afraid to be silly, is not afraid to be curious and ask questions. That’s really core to who I am, and I think if you hang out with me for more than probably five minutes, that part of me will come out. The loving leader is something I’m really looking to develop as I step into the CEO role in my new job and I’m the leader of six people and I’m driving a company forward. A strategist who can see different paths, who can look at the entire landscape and see what to do is also very important in that role. And finally, a dominant lover, which I won’t get into on this video because I’m gonna keep it PG.
So that’s just an example of my mission statement, and then I have … again, I have paragraphs that explain which of these are, I have mental states and emotional states that I want to get into. I have limiting beliefs that I want to get rid of, and then I have habits that I want to create that correspond to each of these.
So that was sort of a meandering take on mission statements. This is a little bit of a different video. I just wanted to sort of give you a tour of mission statements and maybe get you intrigued in creating one. So thanks so much for watching and I’ll catch you next time.