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Dr. Amy Wood

Psychologist Amy Wood helps adults to articulate and accomplish their own unique versions of success through psychotherapy, coaching, training, speaking, and writing. A pragmatic optimist, she is known for her capacity to simplify complexity and see manageable solutions amid the overwhelm of modern life and work. Dr. Wood is the author of the award-winning book Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-paced World and member of the National Speakers Association. She earned her doctorate from the Adler School of Professional Psychology, graduated from the College of Executive Coaching, and is a certified mediator. Visit her website at Connect with her on LinkedIn and find her on Facebook

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Living Smart with Dr. Amy Wood
Posted: June 18, 2015

What’s your mission statement? (Having one will make everything simpler!)

While staying at the Pleasanton, California Marriott a few weeks ago, I was heartened by the casually inviting atmosphere. Whenever I passed a housekeeping employee in a hallway or out by the pool, they looked right at me, beamed a warm, wide grin and said hello. The reaction I’m accustomed to from the average hotel employee or maintenance person is head down, no eye contact and/or an efficient nod in response to my standard smile, so I found the down-to-earth friendliness refreshing.

Perhaps because I was feeling so relaxed in this neighborly hotel, I got off on the housekeeping floor by mistake on my way to the lobby one day. And suddenly, as I eyed the entrance to the housekeeping break room, I understood why those employees were all so pleasant and engaging (it wasn’t just the name of the town).

Tacked onto the break room door was a big bold sign bearing their mission statement:

We listen and watch carefully for customer cues.

We make personal connections whenever we can.

When we build relationships, we are brilliant.

Mission statements are one of the best ways I know to be motivated, focused and committed to a worthy goal. Essentially a code of conduct designed to encourage actions aligned with core values of an organization, a mission statement can lead the way to fulfilling achievement for everyone involved. The catch, though, is that a mission statement has to be sincere and sensible – or it will fall flat.

Mission statements are pretty common these days in places of business, but most of them don’t make an impressive impact because they miss the mark. Basic mission statements – we strive to treat our customers right, we put our customers first, blah, blah, blah – are just too generic and boring to make any kind of difference. Some are compellingly crafted but don’t translate into action because employees aren’t managed humanely enough to carry them out. Other mission statements are just plain absurd, like this one on tattered paper, taped to the check-out counter of a crappy convenience store where I stopped for gas once: Our number one priority is to deliver world class service.

The most effective mission statements are those we don’t have to read because they are spelled out in the winning performance of workers. The establishments we love most – Starbucks, Southwest Airlines and Trader Joe’s, to name a few – clearly have sustainable missions centered on customer loyalty. Why else would their employees be so keenly tuned into us, delivering precisely what we want seamlessly and enthusiastically, so that we want to return again and again?

The Pleasanton Marriott mission statement is one of those that I could have predicted from how the employees were interacting with me. Seeing the actual words spelled out on a sign was nice clarification and also a reminder that the best mission statements work not just for organizations, but for individuals too.

So read that Marriott mission statement one more time:

We listen and watch carefully for customer cues.

We make personal connections whenever we can.

When we build relationships, we are brilliant.

Now, put that in terms that make sense for everyday life:

Take pause and notice what the people in your orbit need and want.

Engage others in your purpose by providing what they need and want as best you can, in a style that suits you.

Recognize that positive human attachments are the foundation for everything.

Now take those words for a spin and see what happens.

No matter who you are or what you hope to accomplish, I promise that following a potent, proven mission statement – ie, a mission statement that endorses bona fide relationship-building as the key to success – will make everything simpler. Because when you strip away pretense, be yourself and apply basic human attention to all you do, natural rapport cuts through the clamor and gets the job done. Ease into your dreams and duties with authentic civility and the world begins to feel more inviting, reassuring, cooperative and, well, a little bit more like Pleasanton.

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