Creating a Personal Mission Statement

A mission statement is a clear and concise statement of what your organization does. Have you considered creating one for yourself?

When I taught media ethics at a university, the final project I required of my students was for each one to create a mission statement. They could write it. They could make a video. They could draw it. All that mattered was that they gave some thought to understanding what made them tick.

They really struggled with it, but the final projects were always phenomenal. I didn’t require them to share them with the class – only with me, the instructor, who almost always gave them an “A” as long as they put thought into the project.

When you have a mission statement, you know what you want and whether what you are currently doing is helping you to get there. I was reviewing mine the other day, and I realized, I needed to let some projects go because – although I enjoyed them – they were a distraction and were not part of my personal mission.

Another way to approach your mission statement is to think about what you would do if you had your life to live over. And then do it! Near the end of her life, columnist Erma Bombeck wrote, “If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace….

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.”

If you don’t have a mission statement, why not create one. It’s not too late!

National Columnists Day

Today is National Columnists Day, which recognizes the importance and value of newspaper columnists. It was established in memory of the day columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Ernie Pyle was killed in World War II.

I grew up reading Dave Barry (just going to his website makes me laugh out loud), the late Erma Bombeck and Bob Greene (whose career had a tragic twist). The columns were funny, moving, candid, and I could never get enough of them.

At one point in my newspaper career, I was given the opportunity to have my own column, which I called “Off the Cuff,” a recommendation from my father. It allowed me to write on most any topic. I enjoyed that freedom.

Columnist Nancy Wright Beasley, who writes a monthly column for Richmond Magazine also enjoys having the opportunity to choose her subjects. She says. “It is a privilege to be a columnist because you have the opportunity to shed light on special people who do wonderful things and are often not covered by the daily media.”

Another columnist, Ann Allen notes, “I love being a columnist. It’s more creative than reporting the who, why how, when and where.”

In later years, I was drawn to the columnists at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. My friend Julie Campbell reminded me of those great writers, who included Steve Clark, Betty Booker and Jann Malone. When I was at the Roanoke Times & World-News I enjoyed reading Ben Beagle. In researching this column, I found The World I Never Made, which is a collection of his columns.

My tastes and genres have evolved. And thanks to blogging, opportunities are everywhere for reading about issues that matter to me and sometimes just reading good writing. I asked my Facebook friends who they are reading. Here’s a sampling:

Why not make time today to read your favorite columnist? And while you’re at it, add a comment to this blog letting us know who you are reading.