In a previous post, I mentioned sharing where and how to start creating your family’s mission statement. However, after a bit of reflection, I realize that I may have done both of us a disservice. I was a tad overzealous and a bit careless in summarizing the family mission statement creation process. I should have promised to first provide a clear and concise explanation of what a family mission statement is. So let’s get started!
4 Tips for Creating a Great Family Mission Statement
In this article:
- Start with the end in mind.
- Think about an elevator pitch
- Remember it’s a family affair
- Keep it simple
If you have a family like mine, I don’t have to tell you how important it is for the words we speak to have the same meaning for those who hear them. I think of how many family misunderstandings could have been averted if the speaker and hearer were on the same page. As such, to keep us from having any misunderstanding, I’m going to take a moment to explain exactly what I mean when I use the words “family mission statement.”
- Family: a group of people who are related to each other generally living under one roof.
- Mission: a specific task with which a person or a group is charged to perform or carry out.
- Statement: a single declaration or remark that is said or written in a formal or official way.
Now let’s put all three words together and use them in a sentence. A Family Mission Statement is an official singular declaration that a group of related people makes about a specific task or service they intend to complete.
Pretty simple. Clearer than mud, right? Let’s move forward and consider four things to reflect on when you create your family mission statement.
Tip #1: Start With the End In Mind
This won’t be much fun. However, I need you to imagine that your entire family dies a tragic death. How you die is not important. What’s important is that you imagine that no one sharing your name or DNA survives.
Now answer this: How would you like your neighbors, community, state, nation, and the world to remember you and your family? Whatever we desire to appear in the first two sentences of our obituary is probably identical to what we want to appear in the family’s mission statement.
Whatever you and your family come up with for your obituary – activities you participated in, endeavors you completed – will serve as your family mission statement. The family mission statement/family obituary will describe the roadmap your family followed and the legacy your family created.
Tip #2: Think Elevator Pitch
Don’t confuse your family mission statement with a Statement of Beliefs, Vision Statement or Action Plan. In fact, a family mission statement is not the place where you share all your views, ideas or strategies. Instead, it is something you could share with someone you meet briefly in an elevator. A short one or two sentence inspirational statement that quickly and simply defines your family.
If I haven’t made myself clear about the meaning of brevity consider the conciseness of a statement you would give to the police if stopped for DWB. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you would do what I would and say: “I want to speak with my attorney.”
Tip #3: It’s A Family Affair
In the spirit of the music of Sly and the Family Stone, the creation of a family mission statement is a family affair. Everyone should participate and that includes young children. In other words, anyone who can walk, say what they don’t want to eat and tell you when they don’t want to go to bed is ready and able to help craft the family mission statement.
In truth, including children in the process will give you the best chance of crafting an authentic family mission statement. Including small children is even better – they are simple yet sophisticated. Small children give clear and concise responses to everything. Yes, no, good, bad, etc. They will help you avoid all things pretentious.
Tip #4: Keep It Simple
When it comes to your family mission statement, children will aid the family in staying true to the K.I.S.S. principle. In return, your family mission statement will probably be something you can actually regurgitate easily and remember to do each day – “be good all the time” or “be nice to everyone we meet”.
In preparing for this post, I’ve compiled a few samples that I found effortless in getting you started. However, while these samples are less vibrant than some corporate mission statements, they are simply stated, appealing, useful and compelling:
- Starbucks – to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
- Coca-Cola – refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness and to create value and make a difference.
- Apple – to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
- Facebook – to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
- The Raising Supaman Project – to change the world, one parent, one child at a time.
Really that’s all there is to a family mission statement.
BMWK – Does your family have a mission statement? What are some of the elements of a good mission statement?
About the Author: Nathaniel A. Turner, J.D. blogs at The Raising Supaman Project, a dad blog for children of all ages. Connect with Nate on Twitter: @Supamans_Dad
Editor’s Note: BMWK originally published this post on October 16, 2013. We have updated it for quality and relevancy.