Monday, August 30, 2010

Something like a Mission Statement

I know I wrote about doing a mission statement back in January for our family. Ben and I have continuously worked on it, but never really felt a sense of accomplishment through the process. It seemed like it took more & more time without ever writing a family mission statement to date. And if you're family looks anything like our family (which my guess would be the majority of families around), then my guess is you don't have much time to devote to many sessions of answering questions, brainstorming & compiling a mission statement, which seems like you couldn't ever achieve.

So what do you do? Well, we both read this fantastic book (for me as the not so active reader--I read it in a 24 hour period) entitled, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. The book is written in story format, making it easier to read, digest & follow. Then, Lencioni concludes with spelling out the Big 3 Questions even further for application.

Things I liked about this approach versus Covey's 7 Habits or other "mission statement" idea are:
  1. It was straightforward.
  2. It was separating objective versus subjective, realistic goals vs. idealistic goals, tangible time lines vs. ambiguous time lines.
  3. It doesn't take FOREVER to brainstorm or apply it.
  4. There is only one major goal or "rally cry" you as a family work on at a time.
  5. There is a set time (2-6 months) to see your specific rally cry achieved.
  6. You meet as a family (or parents or yourself) 10 minutes once a week to discuss how the rally cry is coming along.
  7. The mission statement isn't suppose to be eloquent or fancy. It is written in your words that describe the uniqueness of YOUR family (not mine or anyone else).
Ben & I worked on Question #1 yesterday, which is "What makes your family unique?"
I like this question, because it doesn't ask you what you want your family to look like (that's not a bad thing); rather, who is your actual family. You actually embrace who you are. In order to know how to answer this question, sit down and brainstorm some ideas.

1. Core Values: These are those traits that you can't hide or run away from. They're inherent in who you are as a person. And most likely, these are the values that attracted you to your spouse. Brainstorm a list together of a couple values. These shouldn't be aspirations or ways you wish you were, over spiritual's simply you. As you can see from our list below, it's not that we aren't loyal or stand up for what we believe, it's just not as high on value list as the final three. Pick two or three of your brainstorming values.

For example, here was our brainstorming values:
  • sense of humor
  • loyalty
  • serving others
  • hospitality: making others feel welcomed & worthy
  • Generosity
  • standing up for what we believe is right
We narrowed it down to:
  • Sense of Humor
  • Hospitality
  • Generosity

2. Strategy: This is another way to differentiate what makes your family unique. What the strategy looks like is two or three purposeful decisions your family makes to carry out it's week by week, month to month lives. You will want to brainstorm all the things, which are true about your family. This list can be big as you make it. Once you've made your list, identify any themes throughout and jot the theme down.

Here is a sampling of our list:
  • Two young girls
  • family of four
  • mom stays home, dad works out of the house
  • mom likes to bake and blog
  • mom and dad work out at the same gym
  • like spending time with our family
  • like funny tv shows and movies
  • like good food
  • children love strawberry shortcake
  • mom enjoys music
  • involved at church
  • dad likes watching sports
  • dad likes reading
  • mom likes cookbooks
  • females enjoy farmer's market
  • enjoy being outside, not rugged
  • we enjoy vacations
  • we value harmony in our relationships
  • enjoy laughter
  • veronica doesn't like chicken mascots or train noises or ronald mcdonald
(Aside from some of the above that were added for comic relief) here are the themes we found:
  • eating good food
  • spending time with one another,
  • finding time away without our children

From there....we took our three Core Values & three Strategic themes to answer Question #1 (written in our words): What makes your family unique?

We are a family who enjoys spending time with one another and makes laughter a focal point of our time together. Eating good food, experiencing new food and cooking are important to us. We actively practice generosity and hospitality in response to the abundant generosity and hospitality God has extended to us in our lives.

Questions 2 & 3 to come...


John and Sarah Pell said...

Thanks for your post. I am going to look at this book. We have created a mission statement at one point but I would love for us to get more specific. Love it!

Stacy said...

This is interesting, as Mark and I were just talking today about our family "culture" or identity, or what makes our family uniquely *us*. :)

I love this kind of process!

And my favorite item was the
veronica doesn't like chicken mascots or train noises or ronald mcdonald

:) cutie.