Early in my career, I worked in public relations for the JCPenney Company.
James Cash Penney, the founder of the now national retailer, based his business philosophy on one simple mission statement: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" -- the Golden Rule. In fact, his first store was called The Golden Rule.
This mission statement permeated every aspect of how Mr. Penney ran his business.
For example, he asked for a "fair remuneration and not all the profits the traffic will bear." He was the first to call employees "associates," and he treated them like family. During the stock market crash in the 1920's, Mr. Penney lost his personal fortune and took a loan against his life insurance in order to pay the associates' salaries.
When I arrived at JCPenney in 1984, it was the fourth largest retailer in the nation with stores in every state. The retail business was competitive and cutthroat, but The Golden Rule remained the company philosophy almost 90 years after the store was founded.
One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Penney is this: "Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals, and I'll give you a stock clerk."
Mr. Penney understood the value of having goals that reflect your mission and how they can change the course of your life. His goals for himself and his company were grounded in his mission statement of the Golden Rule. Knowing his mission, it was much easier to build his business and remain focused.
Businesses create missions statements to provide purpose and direction for the organization. But it's as vital for individuals to have a mission and a vision for themselves as it is for any business.
Creating a personal mission statement forces clarity, helps you define purpose, and serves as the foundation for your life goals. It also helps you identify the underlying reasons for your choices and behaviors and what truly motivates you to make change. As author (of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) Stephen Covey says, your mission statement is about “defining the personal, moral and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself.”
Writing it down on paper makes it real. Your mission statement becomes your own personal constitution -- the basis for life-directing decisions, as well as making daily choices that impact you and those around you.