No matter the role — whether managing yourself or others — I believe one must always think and act as a
leader. But the way you define your version of leadership is just as important as your commitment to lead in
the first place. That’s why I’m an adamant proponent for personal mission and vision statements to guide both
leadership and personal development. Adopting them brings focus and provides the framework around which
your life strategies are formulated.
These two statements are the first essential elements of personal mastery. A vision statement is your North
Star and your mission statement represents your values and purpose compass. Taken together, they represent an image of the future that you desire. Like a corporate mission statement, they provide a code of conduct that define your convictions and how to lead in a way that embodies your values. To anyone who wants to create them, this is my recommendation to get started.
Uncovering your value
The irony is that although your mission and vision bely everything you do, they are not simple to formulate — it takes careful introspection and self-examination to succinctly articulate your purpose with clarity.
While some may have a vague idea of their purpose, few take the time to sit down and work through a process to craft statements that truly capture what drives them as leaders. By making your mission and vision conscious and tangible, you can use them to ground and guide your authentic leadership.
To get started, reflect on your life and identify what’s important to you.
When developing your statements, consider questions like:
- What does the future I desire look like?
- What are my top three core values?
- What do I do at an excellent level?
- What are my top two or three strengths?
When you feel confident in your answers, follow these guidelines for writing clear and impactful personal mission and
This is for you. If your statements don’t inspire you.
Be brief. The more succinct, the more powerful. You want your
message to be memorable, clear, and precise.
Use positive statements. Your vision should be about what you
want to achieve, not what you want to prevent or avoid. It should
propel you to your future.
Pack a punch. Use impactful language that is meaningful
Through a distinguished military career, I have learned that leadership requires self-discipline, righteous action, pure motives and extraordinary selflessness. But to lead by example, I have discovered I must know and lead myself first. By learning more about myself, I can grow and implement strategies to ensure I have the agility, will and skill to flex from one role to another to retain team cohesion and effectiveness.
Adopting my personal mission and vision statements and reviewing them regularly help me to see my strengths and my
opportunities, and enable me to hold myself accountable. My vision statement focuses on my descendants starting higher, going further, achieving more and stumbling less than their predecessors. Reflecting on this statement helps me prioritize their well-being with tools like a financial plan and other elements to help ensure their protection and prosperity if something were to happen to me.
Remember, there is value in clarity. The clearer you are on who you are, the more your value as a leader will shine through.
Ronald J. Adams, Vice President – Career Distribution, Talent and Performance, is focused on developing and delivering core components of the overall field talent and performance strategy to ensure our industry-leading field force is strong, diverse, and vibrant. He also leads the team responsible for the creation and execution of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies; co-chairs Northwestern Mutual’s D&I Corporate Committee; and is a member of the CEO-led Task Force for Sustained Action for Racial Equity.
Vision: My descendants, each generation, will start higher, go further, achieve more, and stumble less than their predecessor.
Personal mission statement: To be a light, provide the salt and bring the calm wherever I am and in all I do.