HABIT TWO – BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. As you walk into the
chapel, notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family; you
feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known.
As you reach the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face4o-face
with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from now. Take a seat and look down at the
program in your hand. The first speaker is from your extended family; the second is a close
friend; the third is an acquaintance from your business life; the fourth is from your church or
some community-service organization where you’ve worked.
What character would you like each of these speakers to have seen in you – what difference
would you like to have made in their lives?
The second habit of effectiveness is to begin with the end in mind. It means to know where
you’re going so as to understand where you are now, and take your next step in the right
direction. It’s ma7’ingly easy to get caught up in an activity trap in the busyness of life, to work
harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the
wrong wall. We may be very efficient by working frenetically and heedlessly, but we will be
effective only when we begin with the end result in mind.
The best way to start is to develop a personal mission statement. It describes what we want to
be (character) and to do (achievements). The following is from my friend Rolfe Kerr’s personal
Succeed at home first;
Seek and merit divine help;
Remember the people involved;
Develop one new proficiency a year,
Hustle while you wait;
Keep a sense of humor.
You could call a personal mission statement a sort of written constitution – its power lies in the
fact that it’s fundamentally changeless. The key to living with change is retaining a sense of
who you are and what you value.
Start developing your mission statement, like Kerr’s, from a core of principles. I mention this
because all of us are drawn away from real effective ness when we make our center something
other than our principles.
Thriving on change requires a core of changeless values.
Being spouse centered might seem natural and proper. But experience tells a different story.
Over the years, I have been called on to help many troubled marriages; the complete
emotional dependence that goes with being spouse centered often makes both partners so
vulnerable to each other’s moods that they become resentful.
The self-esteem of someone money centered can’t weather the ups and downs of economic
life; money-centered people often put aside family or other priorities, assuming everyone will
understand that economic demands come first. They don’t always, and we can damage our
most important relationships by thinking that they do.
Being pleasure centered cheats one of lasting satisfactions. Too much time spent at leisure, on
the paths of least resistance, insure that our mind and spirit become lethargic, and our heart
We want to center our lives on correct principles. Unlike other centers based on people and
things subject to frequent change, correct principles don’t change. We can depend on them.
Your mission statement may take you some weeks to write, from first draft to final form; it’s a
concise expression of your innermost values and directions. Even then, you will want to review
it regularly and make minor changes as the years bring new insights. Be guided by Vicktor
Frankl, who says we detect rather than invent our mission in life:
“Everyone has his own specific vocation in life
Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated.”
Organizations need mission statements. So do families, so that they do not simply lurch from
emotional crisis to crisis – but instead know they have principles that will support them. The
key is to have each member of the group contribute ideas and words to the final product That
contribution alone generates real commitment