Monday, January 31, 2011

I have a mission statement?

I know. My sister, Crystal, has had one for years and quite frankly I thought it was more than a little funny. Not the actual statement, that was totally appropriate for her, but the fact that she had one. Which is also totally appropriate for her. She's all about self actualization, but I still thought it was pretty humorous. (Sorry Crystal, I love you.)

I mean, really. Who has a personal mission statement?

And here's the really funny part.


I realized this after reading several times that Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, made their mission statement this quote from Emerson.

Why so would be a man
must be a nonconformist.
He who would gather immortal palms
must not be hindered
by the name of goodness,
but must explore if it be goodness.
Nothing is atlast sacred
but the integrity of your own mind.

I had never thought about a piece of someone else's prose as a way to have a mission statement, but mine has been for years. Like I had it hanging on my locker door in high school. I just didn't know it was my mission statement then.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

You may have noted that this quote is also generally attributed to Emerson. I like the version written by Bessie Stanley of Lincoln Kansas in 1905 quite a bit too.

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.

The Emerson version is ingrained in my memory, but I kind of like the Stanley one a lot too, especially since it's by a woman from Kansas. I think my official mission statement is somewhere in between. The exact words aren't the important part of a mission statement so that's okay for me. I wouldn't work for some other people, who were probably horrified by that last sentence, but they also rewrite their mission statement once a year.

I'm thinking maybe I'll come up with some way to bring my mission statement into my life in an easily visible location.. I just need to come up with a non-cheesy wall art idea. I'll let you know what I come up with.

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