Sunday, April 27, 2014

On Tattoos and Missions

Got my first tattoo Friday and decided to pull the trigger for two primary reasons: 

(1) I’ve had a personal mission statement (live fully tread lightly) that has stuck with me since 2006 and it’s the cornerstone of the life transition I’m going through, and 
(2) tattoos are now so common that I’m not as worried about being 70 years old with a wrinkly one. 

live fully

tread lightly

As I think back to its origins, I recall the first class I took while getting my MBA in 2006 (another class in that program spawned this blog, actually, and its always carried the "live fully tread lightly" tagline). The class was kind of a “zen and the art of leadership” sort of deal where the professor encouraged us to dig into our soul, unearth our true values, and then let those be our guiding star as we lead others. I remember thinking it was pretty cheesy when we were asked to come up with a personal mission statement because at that time all the mission statements I’d seen were complete corporate jargon-filled bullshit like this no-shit, real life one (no longer active) from a national grocer:
Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate)
Gentlemen, we nailed it!

But the zen vibe of that leadership class quickly grew on me and I really appreciated it. I also now look upon it as the genesis of my newfangled thinking.

My personal mission statement evolved slightly over the years and I now encourage others to come up with one as well. I'm no expert, but to create an effective personal mission statement I recommend my simple five-part strategy:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Write it down
  3. Be aware of it (i.e. Keep the written form visible)
  4. Write down your thoughts regularly (daily or weekly journal)
  5. Allow it to evolve over time
It's worked out for me and now I have a clear reminder inked permanently on my left forearm to guide my decision-making and help keep me on a desired path.


Dan said...

I wanna do a coffee table book or horrendous corporate mission statements.

Nice ink!

Susan Bright said...

Love it! If you can call it a mission statement, mine is "find joy in the moment". This came from a speaker at a Dementia Conference years back, and has always stuck with me. It has helped find the joy in mom's disease.
Great blog Kirk!

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Find joy in the moment.
I like that, Susan. A great life philosophy.

jm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jm said...

Kirk, you remind me of JD Roth of More Than Money Matters. He and Mr. Money Mustache lead a retreat in Ecuador that I think you should consider attending...just because you can. And because you are a money genius!Check out the event at:
- Jodi

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Jodi - I've been enjoying following MMM and his wisdom. Ecuador sounds pretty nice, too.