Mission Statements


I've been preparing a little presentation about the firm for use in an upcoming meeting and it has kept me thinking about mission statements, strategic vision and things like that. I could easily point back to my last post - I don't like business jargon that seems to be saying a lot without really saying anything. So with that in mind, have you thought about a meaningful mission statement to guide your personal and professional lives?

One of the best ideas I can think of for crafting a mission statement is to figure out what you are good at: What are your strengths? It is easy to identify weaknesses and attack them systematically over the course of weeks or months, but it makes more sense to me to FOCUS on your strengths. These are the skills, passions and desires that drive you. So what are they? Need a little help? A great book by Tom Rath, entitled StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a great place to start.

Now, take those strengths and use them to come up with a MISSION. No, I didn't forget the last half of the phrase, a MISSION. James C. Collins, in his article In Pursuit of the Big Hairy Audacious Goal states that
A true mission is a clear and compelling goal that focuses people's efforts. It is tangible, specific, crisp, clear and engaging. It reaches out and grabs people in the gut.

I love that imagery and the ideas behind that quote. Any good MISSION has a clear finish - you'll know when you achieved it! Resist the urge to fill out your mission statement with platitudes and vague statements. If your mission statement isn't guiding your behavior, you haven't quite got it right. Go back to your strengths and keep paring it down until you've got to the honest core of you MISSION.

Emotional Intelligence - Beyond The Buzzwords


While I'm definitely not one to walk into a meeting and tell people we have to synergize, think outside the box and repurpose our goals to make them actionable, I do think there is something to the oft used and abused term Emotional Intelligence.

So, what is Emotional Intelligence? Sure, there's a long, drawn out scientific explanation as to why and how our emotions developed and clearly raw, unadulterated intelligence can take a person pretty far in this life. Still neither of these, standing alone explains why some extremely intelligent people fail while those with a perceptibly lower level of intelligence seem to get a lot of traction. Emotional Intelligence, according to author Daniel Goleman is an amalgamation of five areas: (1) Self-Awareness: Ongoing attention to your internal states, including your emotions; (2) Managing Emotions: Don't ignore or try to eliminate emotions, analyze and incorporate them; (3) Self-Motivation: The ability to restrain emotions, delay impulses, and to defer gratification are critical life skills and the key to a host of endeavors; (4) Empathy: The more self-aware you become, the more skilled you will become at reading other people's feelings; and (5) Handling Relationships: The ability to accurately express feelings and sense the emotions of others is key to maintianing healthy relationships. IQ and Emotional Intelligence are not opposing competencies, but they do work separately. A person can be intellectually brilliant but emotionally inept, an imbalance that can cause many life problems.

How can you build your emotional intelligence? Authors Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves offer some suggestions in their book, the Emotional Intelligence Quick Book:

  1. Repetition is the key to permanent change. If you practice emotional intelligence skills regularly they will get easier over time.
  2. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Spend time improving one particular skill area rather than taking a shotgun approach and losing interest when the task seems overwhelming.
  3. Lean into your fear. Most people have a hard time realizing the cold, ugly truths about their own weaknesses. If you come face to face with your shortcomings, you can find ways to deal with them rather than ignoring them altogether.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but a great starting point for gaining control over your emotions and dealing with the emotions of others in your personal and professional life.

Minneapolis Half-Marathon


I participated in my first-ever half-marathon this weekend and had a blast. Special thanks to Team Ortho for putting on a first rate event that was great for the runners as well as the spectators. I don't think I could have asked for a more perfect way to kick off my long-distance running. The weather was perfect and being there with all these other runners was so inspiring!