Creating my personal manifesto

Oct 9, 2015

One of the things that came out of my recent Quarterly Personal Offsite was the idea of writing my personal manifesto, setting out what I want to achieve as I re focus my business activities. The idea of a personal manifesto came for reading Todd Henry’s latest book Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice. I recognised the need for something that succinctly captured the outcomes I am trying to create, and around which the business model and my goals and objectives could be framed.

What exactly is a personal manifesto?

While Todd Henry suggested the idea of a personal manifesto he didn’t give many clues about how to write one or what should be in it, save the phrase “it should scare you a little, and if it doesn’t then go re-write it”! So, my journey started to work through what a personal manifesto actually is.

My only experience of a manifesto is the document issued by a political party before an election, setting out what the party stands for, its policies, and the specific things it will do in the next 5 years once elected. Logically then my manifesto should state what I stand for and outline my ambitions for the next 5 years. I’m also clear that I’m not writing a mission or a vision statement. Many businesses have spent countless hours developing mission and vision statements, and generally I loathe what they come up with. they tend to be all “motherhood and apple pie” and have very little tangible about them to base anything on. So straight away I knew what a manifesto wasn’t.

What should a personal manifesto contain?

So armed with the inspiration, and a vague idea of what I was trying to achieve, I set out on a journey of discovery. To cut a long story short, I’ve determined that the personal manifesto should contain the following:

My BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). The BHAG is where the scary bit of the personal manifesto comes from. Its a concept devised by Jim Collins as part of “Good to Great”.

My motivation. This is the bit that makes the manifesto really personal, because at its core it needs to have the reason I do stuff, my passion. I love the idea of Single Motivating Purpose (SMP), which goes along the lines I get up in the morning to ( insert what you do here) in order to (insert the outcome here). My SMP is in turn based on my strengths, as defined in Strengthsfinder 2.0

My niche. I love Jim Collins’ hedgehog concept, where he recognises the power of combining the thing you are passionate about with an aspect of it you can aspire to be best in the world at. I firmly believe that simply being good at what you do is no longer good enough. You need to specialise and become brilliant at one or two things your customers really value. My niche is very definitely the thing that I have that sort of aspiration for.

My Values. Those personal rules and standards that govern the way I do everything. Things like integrity, authenticity, work / life balance. I’ve taken time in the past to think through my values, and I’m pretty clear what they are. I shared the process in a previous blog post.

My Ideal Customer. We all have customers for our work. If you run a business then your customer is clear. If you are employed, then your personal customers will be the people you do things for. But, who is your ideal customer? the one you can really have at the back of your mind when you are producing things. Can you name that customer? what does he or she really value? I refer to my ideal customer as my Avatar, and I have a well defined picture of his problems, what he really values, and how to help him.

My ways of working. How I’m going to do things, based around what I do best and what I need support from others to do. What do I do myself and what do I outsource or delegate. I’ve found Kolbe A a very useful test to show me what Im best at and the things I should focus on.

What drives value in the business: In good to great Jim Collins talks about the economic engine, and looks for the one thing that can be measured and continually improved to add value. This continual improvement is core to my business strategy. I know the thing that will really drive value in my business is referrals from satisfied customers. A meaningful manifesto must have this fundamental driver right at its heart because it will influence the way everything is done.

How to Write a Personal Manifesto

Sitting down and writing a long manifesto document is difficult. I’m not sure that having such a document is necessary. But getting everything down on paper really helps your own understanding. I found a mind map an extremely powerful way of articulating my thoughts in a structured way. This template might help you through a similar process.

Personal Manifesto Mindmap

Personal Manifesto Mindmap