A Personal Vision Statement

One of the first things I noticed on LinkedIn.com this morning was a short video by LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, addressing Personal Vision Statements.* Comparing them to the vision statements of companies or organizations (their “true north”), which can inspire their employees, he suggests individuals can also create such statements to guide them and define their actions.

I’ve given thought to such a thing before, but I was inspired today to nail down a definitive statement to claim as my own. This is what I got:

“To graciously, thoughtfully, and with fullest honesty live and give to others.”

Originally I extended it to include “…in such a way to give back greatest value for the life I’ve been given,” but not only did that make it too cumbersome, it’s also redundant. Giving value (purpose, reason) back is the whole point of a vision statement.

My vision statement may not read particularly specific, but it is an edited version of the following points I wanted to include.

  1. To give value, demonstrating good reasons for living and for other people to care about or even pay attention to me,
  2. …primarily by giving graciously of myself, my talents, my experience, and my concern to others.
  3. To be thoughtful in all things; what I say, what I do, and how I respond.
  4. Not just thoughtful, but honest. Honest in communication with others, but more importantly honest by being true to myself. To be real, to not hide my true self or my abilities out of fear or other unworthy reason. To conscientiously be the real me to best help other people.

Of course, coming up with such a statement is one thing. Putting it out here is another. The real test, though, is acting on it and living up to it.

 

*Thanks for sharing this, Richie Norton!

On the Other Hand, Maybe Don’t be Like Taco Bell

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a lesson I learned from Taco Bell. Following their lead, I encouraged readers to give lots of extra sauce, more than they might think people need, whenever serving other people. The extra sauce was a metaphor for added value. Most people will happily deliver on expectations; distinguish yourself and heighten your own satisfaction by OVERdelivering.

On the other hand, there’s something else I’ve learned from my (too frequent) visits to Taco Bell:

Don’t call something SUPREME just because you put some sour cream on it.

Okay, sure, they also add tomatoes. Still, this seems surprisingly in contrast with the generous sauce packets policy.

Yes, Taco Supreme IS different from the regular taco. Yes, it IS more delicious. And yes, the price difference really isn’t that much. But ‘supreme’?

Supreme should be SUPREME! None better! The Ultimate! Does adding just a couple of ingredients really qualify? In this case, The Bell is demonstrating the problem with overpromising.

When you present your work to others, it’s best to be honest. With yourself as well as your audience. Misrepresentation will inevitably only lead to disappointment.

Being honest with yourself might be more challenging than accurately laying things out for other people. Pride, hubris, and plain excitement can make us overestimate our accomplishments. If you put tons of effort into a project you rightly want to make sure it’s recognized as having value. It’s important, however, to be careful not to overvalue what you’ve done.

Carefully consider your offerings before you describe, publicize, promote, or market them. Analyze yourself and your work as objectively as possible. If you have trouble with that, get help and opinions from people you trust.

Telling the world, in essence, a result was the best you could do — “it’s supreme!” — can lower expectations of your future work. It can make you appear dishonest, arrogant, or unrealistic.

Honesty does mean taking credit when you DO create something extraordinary. By no means play down or minimize your work when it is far and above the average. If it IS supreme, let the world know! If you’ve been careful to not cry wolf (or taco), they’ll believe you.