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Creating Your ‘North Star’

North star in the night sky

Many of us work in or for companies that are proud of their vision, mission and values statements — they are the guiding principles for making decisions and steering the future of our businesses.  Can we apply these same thoughts and guidance in our personal lives and career?

First, what do these words mean?  There is a lot of talk about finding our purpose, but what are these statements, and how can we use them to set goals?

A mission statement is your ‘why’. It is based in the present, it is why something exists, and where it stands today.  It helps identify goals, and helps you understand if the decisions you are making are best for what you want in your life.  What makes you unique?  What makes you different?  Where are you today in your life?

Some examples of business mission statements are “We save people money so they can live better” (Walmart), “We’re in business to save our home planet” (Patagonia), and “To inspire humanity – both in the air and off the ground” (Jet Blue).  What could your personal mission statement be?  Mine is “To inspire others to achieve great things.”  It is why I exist!

While a mission statement is rooted in the here and now, a vision statement is our future.  It serves as our guiding light and is future oriented and inspiring.  It helps us make hard decisions and helps steer us when times get tough.  How do you craft a vision statement?  This is your time to think and dream big! Where do you want to be 5 and 10 years in the future?  Focus on success, but be inspiring and passionate.

How have companies created vision statements to inspire their teams?  Ikea wants “To create a better everyday life for many people, while Nike wants to “Bring inspiration to every athlete.”  Starbucks wants to “treat people like family, and they will be loyal and their all”, while Nordstrom seeks “To serve customers better, to always be relevant in their lives and to form lifelong relationships.”  Wow!  I got goosebumps just typing that— how can you not be inspired and motivated?

What Are Some Examples Of Personal Vision Statements?

Remember, these are our goals for the future and can be used to motivate us during tough times.  Here is mine: “I envision a life filled with innovation and creativity and I will work towards building a life building meaningful connections with others in my industry and taking risks.  I will also prioritize physical health, family and taking time for myself.”

Core values, or a value statement, act as the moral compass for us.  They are the principles that guide and direct a business (or our lives!) and are the ‘how’.  In business, these tend to include the values that are unique, what values guide our operations, and what conduct we should uphold.  Some of Google’s core values are “Focus on the user and all else will follow”, “It is best to do one thing really, really well”, and “Great just isn’t good enough.”  The core values of Marriott International include, “We put people first”, “We pursue excellence” and “We embrace change”.  Disney employees use the “Five Keys”- Safety, Courtesy, Inclusion, Show and Efficiency to make all decisions — in that order!

How Can You Create A Personal Value Statement?

This starts with being authentic.  What do you believe, and how does that help you make decisions?  How would you act if no one was watching?  My core values are honesty, integrity, kindness, and respect.  I make all my decisions based on these – and continue to refer to them time and again.

If you’ve ever heard me present live, I love to give homework!  Here is my homework for each and every one of you:  Does your company have a mission, vision and value statement?  If so, how do they communicate those?  If you’re not sure, now is the time to ask!  These are so important in how decisions are made and set the culture for a company.

Next, it’s time to create your own!  What is your ’why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’?  Being clear (and writing these down!) will help you in your career and personal life, so you can make better decisions. These answers will serve as your North Star.  Have you written your statements? 

I’d love to hear from you!

Yours in success –

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