Apple. Coca-Cola. Starbucks. These companies envisioned what they wanted their companies to achieve long before their conception. To achieve their goals, they create both a vision and mission statement to keep them headed in the right direction. But have you ever thought about what you want your family to achieve? Just as Fortune 500 companies communicate vision and mission to their members, a family should do the same. This helps a family envision not only where they want to be in five or ten years, but clearly outlines the steps to get there.
Here are 10 ways to create a vision and mission statement for your family:
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1. Know there's a difference.
There is a difference between two commonly misunderstood statements. A vision statement is not the same as a mission statement. A vision statement is one sentence that encapsulates all that a company wants to be. It is well written and should be easy to remember. Mission statements, on the other hand, are the steps you take to achieve your vision. A vision statement must be written first before the mission statement is created.
2. Hold a family meeting
Gather all your family members so everyone can contribute and a line with the mission. It doesn’t matter the age; even little ones can participate. This way everyone feels like a contributing member. The more opinions you get on this, the better chance you have of making sure everyone agrees on the statement and will move forward with you to achieve your vision.
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3. Create a statement board
Set up a large bulletin board or a large piece of poster board. Set it up on an easel so everyone can see. Ask each member of your family to bring old magazines, tape, glue, and scissors. Provide blank pieces of paper and pens as well. As you write, make it aesthetically pleasing so you can place it in a prominent place.
4. Ask questions while building your board
Compose a list of questions before you begin to write your statement. Here is a sample of questions:
What would a perfect family look like?
What strengths do you bring to the family that may deter us from achieving the mission?
What weaknesses do you need to work on?
What can we do to achieve this family model?
Make sure everyone writes down their answers.
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5. Create a tagline
All successful companies have taglines that succinctly communicate what their company is about. Families can benefit from having a tagline too. Becuase if the family doesn’t communicate what it wants to be, the dynamic can fall apart. Get creative and have members summarize the family in 10 words or less. An example might be “our family is built on faith, hope, and laughter.”
6. Add color to your board
Cut out pictures in magazines of things that represent their answers. This is great for younger members of the family that can’t comprehend the importance of the assignment. For example, if the statement reads, “our home is a safe and secure environment where each member can express themselves freely and are encouraged to follow their dreams,” a member could place a mouth near the word express and a picture of a security system to resemble safety.
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7. Dream big
CEOs not only envision what their company will be like in one year, but also in five or 10 years. Steve Jobs once quoted Wayne Gretzky, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been," then Jobs said, "And we've always tried to do that at Apple."
A family can’t thrive if it’s not dreaming. No dream is off limits. Create a dream board to accompany the mission statement and place it where others can see it often. Let everyone dream without judgment or ridicule.
8. Share your answers
Let each member speak and share freely. This helps establish trust and encourages bonding. Plus it helps people feel like they are truly being heard. Have each of them read their statements aloud. Place the usable portions of each contribution on the board. Combine each person’s contribution and create one statement out of it.
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9. Read books
Many great books are available if you are having trouble creating your own vision and mission statements. Although it's not about vision statements, Seth Godin’s Tribes can help families understand the tribal nature of the family dynamic. It will help parents embrace their leadership role and learn how to lead their children effectively.
Other good resource books are: How to Create a Family Vision and Mission Statement by Ellyn Davis and Build a Better Vision Statement by Shelley Kirkpatrick.
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10. Be specific
One reason why many New Year’s resolutions fail is because they are not specific enough. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” say “I want to lose 10 pounds by April 1st.” In the same way, don’t be afraid to outline your mission and vision as clearly as possible. Much like New Year’s resolutions, simply making vague statements will not ensure success. Instead of saying, “I want my children to be intelligent,” say “I want to raise both my children to value education. I will do this by taking continuing education classes and work to get my doctorate by April 2029.” Make sure your mission statement steps include smart goals.
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A favorite family memory
Every member of the family should have the opportunity to give input into what they want to see the family achieve. By listening to each other, contributing to the conversation, and dreaming freely, your family will not only look back on the experience as a favorite memory, but also propel themselves forward to become the best family possible.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
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Originally published Sunday, 17 March 2019.