There is a television commercial that you can watch on YouTube where Terry Bradshaw becomes “part of the family” when he opens an account at a bank. He ingrains himself into the daily operations of the bank by lending goodwill to everyone he meets. He walks into to bank meetings and says, “Good luck guys,” to the couple applying for a loan, offers coffee to the bank customers, and cheers on the ribbon cuttings with a wave of his fist saying, “that’s what I’m talking about.” In this commercial I would say that Terry has chosen words such as supportive and helpful to establish his Personal Intentional Mission Statement (PIMS).
The Personal Intentional Missions Statement (PIMS) is a way to focus your behavior on the things that you can control. When you focus your actions on your PIMS words then you create a cycle of actions that are balanced and help you not lose sight of your goals.
Choose Your Adjectives
Choose two or three adjectives that are behaviors you can control, such as helpful, friendly, or compassionate. When working with people I suggest that if you choose words such as grumpy or rude, PIMS might not be the best place for you to start.
Your Personal intentional Mission Statement names the behavior that you are hoping to achieve when presented with a problem. Instead of using reactionary behavior that can many times be damaging, you learn to stop and maintain actions that match the intentional mission words. For, example, if you choose the word friendly, even when you are presented with a challenge you would want to focus on actions that support this word. Yelling at someone when you are challenged may not support this word.
If I was working with you personally, I would ask you to think of two or three words to describe who you want to be as a person, the deep down, real person, not the person you think other people want you to be or who you think you need to become as a person. This is your Personal Intentional Mission Statement. These words will become the backbone for how you introduce change into any situation. Once you have chosen your words, I ask that you write these words down or find a way to keep them in your mind for any situation.
The words you choose must be a behavior you can control such as friendly, efficient, helpful, and compassionate. Happy would not be an adjective you would use, in my experience, because you cannot control whether you are happy. The words you choose can also not be things like a new car or well-mannered children. The words you choose are behavior goals that set the groundwork for the rest of the elements. These words are the foundation for how you connect with people and the world, like the sand across the divide.
Keeping The Focus on the Potential
For some, choosing these adjectives is a simple exercise. For others this activity is a struggle. Your personal mission adjectives are important words because you will use them as the place to default to when choosing how to respond to situations as they occur. When you feel lost, scattered, angry, frustrated, you will ask yourself to remember these words.
If you focus on these words instead of all the other stuff running through your head about fairness and stupid situations and how wrong something is, you have clarity to work that helps keep you focused on the things you can control. Think about how much time is spent in a work day worrying about something that someone else did or how something could have been done better than it was done. It is the spirit of your work. It is the sand that helps you see the path just a little clearer.
The example I use to describe how this process works comes from my experiences of helping friends build their houses. Donna and Larry are friends of mine who would build houses and many times contract with a friend who was a builder to help with the technical stuff. We would all work for food and drinks to help them build the house (except the contract professional friend). Some days we would put up walls, other days roof, or paint. The first step to building the house was always the foundation. The forms would have to be set, rebar embedded, and plumbing put into place. This first step was critical. Once the concrete was poured and hardened it became the base for all other aspects of the house. Without a strong and straight foundation the rest of the building structures would be compromised.
Personal mission is like the concrete foundation. A strong PIMS (Personal Intentional Mission Statement) improves you ability to be more engaged, more efficient and have better clarity for how to deal with any situations. Personal intentional mission becomes the base for all other aspects of your human potential.
On one or more occasions I have heard someone mumble, “What a waste of time.” as I introduce the idea of a Personal Intentional Mission Statement. I can agree that for someone who is not looking for this type of lifestyle change it may seem, on the surface, like a waste of time. I have, however, seen even the liveliest skeptic completely change his or her mind when experiencing the PIMS words in action, especially in a difficult interpersonal situation.
There was a woman that I worked with who was “very set in her ways.” She was in a group with other members and was very skeptical about the value of going through this process. Throughout the six-week program she did not participate in any of the discussions and would spend the meeting time writing or sitting quietly. After the six-week program was complete she came up to talk with me. She was a little teary-eyed and said that if someone had asked her six weeks ago if this would have mattered, she would have scoffed. What she learned about herself was that she did not have a clear picture of these words for herself and this unawareness had impacted all her relationships. She started to see the grander view and the implications for her actions.
When combining your PIMS words with the overall process it changed the way she responded to people and in doing so it changed her life. She said that the biggest change was that she became more accepting of other viewpoints and learned how to interact with people in a way that made her feel better about what she was doing. It opened her world to a bigger view that she had never seen before.
Some of the most popular words that people have chosen are: friendly, helpful, compassionate, efficient and inviting. What I think is important when choosing your own words is that you pick words that match your true nature for who you are becoming remembering that these words are not all or nothing words. You can change them at any time or revise them if you find during the learning process that they are not truly indicative for who you want to become as you decide what foundation you want to create for how you respond to challenges.
I am, however, assuming as we talk about a PIMS that, if you are reading this book, you already have made the decision to find a less scattered way to operate, or that you are seeking something that will help add clarity to the situations you are a part of in your organization. If this is a mandatory read then I hope you have the same experience the skeptics have to bring positive change into life situations.