Vision, Mission & Purpose – anchors in an uncertain world

Developing a Personal Vision, Purpose & Mission

© Developing by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, MCC, SCAC
– part of the What Kind of World Series
and the DreamCatcher™ Program

roadmapDesigning a roadmap for your BEing through the development of a personal Vision, Purpose & Mission is a HUGE Game to play with your life.

Human Resource Manager promptings to the contrary, not everyone will reach a point where they are ready to work on their Vision, Mission and Purpose — at least not in a manner where it can fulfill its promise as a transformative insight into Identity that will forever alter the steps of your life.

Creating truly authentic Vision, Purpose & Mission statements that will call your life into being usually takes considerably more time and internal focus than most people are prepared to dedicate.

It is a process more globally encompassing than the work and business objectives that are the focus of most of what you will find discussed on the internet.

It’s a Stretch

It’s not an easy process, and is decidedly not for the faint of heart. If you’re not at least a tiny bit frightened or overwhelmed, you’re probably not playing a big enough Game. Embarking on this process calls for nothing less than stepping up and owning your personal power.

You are entering the domain of pure creation.

It may feel a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool for the very first time.  It helps to have a kindred spirit in the water, arms outstretched – it’s as tough to do in an isolated pool as it is dangerous to attempt in a shark-infested tank.

I am in the process of creating mySelf anew, and I invite anyone who is up to it to join me here on this blog during the year I have given myself to focus on re-creation.

The YEAR?!

An authentic Vision, Purpose & Mission statement requires a process much more comprehensive than an exercise worked through as part of some motivational seminar or corporate retreat.

It can be initiated in a short-term setting, but I don’t believe that it can be effective as a deadline-driven project; in my experience, it can’t be rushed.

  • To be successful as a guiding principal for the steps of your life, it relies on your being “fully at choice.”  To play The Game successfully, it will be necessary for you to be at choice about a lot in your life.
  • To be truly at choice, you must know your Self very well — easier said than done, I promise you.
  • Until you have many of life’s Darn Details™ handled, it is simply not appropriate to be playing this Game — in the same way that it is inappropriate for a starving man to be encouraged to focus on deciding what is nutritionally optimal.

First we make sure the man’s ongoing life is vital,
then we work on optimizing that life for growth.

Discovery, not decision

You discover your Vision, Mission & Purpose through a process of Self-examination;
you don’t decide what they will be and effort them into being, ticking off items on a Goals List.

It begins with reflection, along with an understanding of what’s involved in each of the Three Parts.  You must begin by getting clear about what you are in the process of creating if you hope to be successful in the creation.

To help you clarify, the rest of this article will explore the process through my own first Vision-Purpose-Mission creation, with a quick glance at one brought into being by my inspiration, coaching mentor, Thomas J. Leonard.

Me and T

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his name,”T” – as he was referred to by those of us who knew him in the early days – was the extremely Vision-driven man who brought the entire Coaching field into being.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with him at the beginning of the process – although some might be more inclined to say “unfortunate” — a double-edged sword.

I worked very closely with T during an early phase of the creation of
Coach University, which is now a huge training corporation, CoachU.

T always seemed to me equal parts genius and madman.
My interactions with him changed my life . . . in ways I could never have foreseen.

It was a bumpy ride.

FOR NOW, lets’ begin to get a handle on the process by taking a look at my own personal Vision that guided the creation a company I founded to midwife a new kind of coaching technology: The Optimal Functioning Institute™ – with gratitude to Thomas for his mentorship.

Pay attention to the fact that, foolish or wise, money was not one of my metrics.


What you SEE as possible for the world in a place where everything you value is present.

Place yourself one hundred years in the future, long after the world you envision has come to pass. Walk around in that world.  Notice what is wonderful about it.

Notice what’s missing (hunger, pain, etc.) only to help you to language what is present  (“everyone has all they want to eat, to be alive is to be radiantly healthy,” etc.).

The Vision of the Optimal Functioning Institute is a world where all people, everywhere, believe in their gut that they work exactly the way they are “supposed” to work, and proceed powerfully and effortlessly from that premise to create magic.

What is YOUR Vision?


Why you are here; who you are on this earth at this time TO BE — how you are going to further the development of your Vision so that it can be realized in your lifetime.

Standing in that future that is your Vision, think back about how your being in the world contributed to its establishment, just by the process of your being alive and sourcing your actions in total integrity with your values.

Now language your actions in a “purposeful,” conscious way, as if your very reason for being was to DO the very thing you “did” to bring about your vision.

The Purpose of the Optimal Functioning Institute™  is to educate the public about attentional issues and learning modalities, train systems development coaches who are able to work with individuals of all types and love to work with individuals with ADD, and to shift expectations of failure to expectations of success (with a sincere belief that optimal functioning is the only way to go!)

What is YOUR Purpose?


Your campaign to make your Vision a reality.

This is the part where you get to create the game board for your really big game.

Remember to make it SMART:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and set in a TimeFrame where you could reasonably expect to be alive to see your mission accomplished (yet big enough to last a good long while before you outgrow it.)

Laying the Foundation

business_leadership_presentorPyramidNote that you may need others to join you – to align their Vision with your own – if you are to see it fully realized in your lifetime.

You may also find yourself, as I did, with a Vision that may well take more than a single life-time to actuate.

If you find that idea unsettling, ask yourself what part of your Ego is clouding your Vision and return to tweak – or to begin anew.

A Mission is an expression of one’s being,
not a justification for it.

When building the Great Pyramids, a great deal of work had to be accomplished long before the shape took form: most of the multi-ton blocks formed little more than a platform.

Those who lay the final stones may well take credit, or be given the accolades for your efforts.  Can you be okay with that?

If not, take another look at Needs, with an eye to getting them met in another venue.

The Mission of the Optimal Functioning Institute™ is to train 10,000 coaches who each change the expectations and magnify the functioning of 1,000 people, motivating each of them to change the expectations and magnify the functioning of 500 people, who each change the expectations and magnify the functioning of 500 others until our vision is realized and our mission is obsolete.

What’s YOUR Mission?

CLARIFICATION through another model

VISION – what you are here to experience – TO HAVE

What YOU SEE as possible — for yourself, for others, for the world.

My vision is a world where people are able to spend their lives knowing and using the real gifts they have been given.”
~ Coaching founder Thomas J. Leonard‘s Vision at the dawn of the Coaching field

PURPOSE – what you are here TO BE

Purpose is who you are going to be to further the possibility of the realization of your Vision.

“My purpose is to be a demonstration that one can re-orient one’s life to share those gifts.”
~Thomas Leonard‘s statement of his intention as the founder of the Coaching field

MISSION – what you are here TO DO

Your specific actions, task or goals to realize your Vision and be a living demonstration of your Purpose – what you are going to do to make that Vision happen

“My mission is to help 20,000 people discover their true gifts, re-orient their lives around them and thank me for it.”
~Thomas Leonard‘s first statement of his place as Coaching field founder

Stepping through the Process

For a while, at least, I will continue writing articles similar to the ones regular readers have become used to seeing from me, AS I step through this process myself.

In ongoing posts in this particular Series, I will begin to outline the steps of the Vision-Purpose-Mission process, and reveal some of my own progress and doubts as I step through it for the second time in my life. I’m focusing on my belief that I will not find myself alone in this endeavor.

I envision being joined by an army ready to play this Game with me, sharing their own thoughts and processes in the comments section. We will create additional ways to interact together as we move forward together.

I would love for there to be enough active interest that we could form a TeleClass MasterMind Group, inspiring and supporting one another in an additional venue – one that operates in “real time.”  We’ll see how it goes.

Are you GAME?  Where do you see yourSelf, relative to this process?  Are you ready to begin this work, or any of its preliminary steps?  Wherever you are in the process, I invite you to join me. Ring in below.  I’m eager to find my new Tribe.

As always, if you want notification of new articles in this series – or any new posts on this blog – give your name and email to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right.  (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too)  STRICT No Spam Policy


If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related Inspiration here on

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BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of being deleted, to lend greater focus on the resources of those with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

14 Responses to Vision, Mission & Purpose – anchors in an uncertain world

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  8. ABOUT “be right back” in response to a comment from YOU.

    Below explains why and what to do if I don’t return. If your comment is approved with a “be right back” response from me, take that as your signal to check back for a longer response I don’t have time to do at the moment I found your comment. ~ mgh

    Work-around #two million and seventy – TWO?

    I have lost so MANY responses to wonderful comments as I move my cursor to click on “approve and reply” — after I have drafted a response. GONE – never to return, It is making me CRAZY [er!] :D.

    Yet I KNOW that many who comment elect to receive notification when their comment posts or new comments are posted in a thread in which they are interested. So I hate to simply “approve” sans response of ANY kind, even if it takes the better part of an hour to redo and post a reply [::sigh::]

    It seems so rude not to acknowledge the wonderful people who spend the minutes of THEIR lives adding to the conversations on, yet there aren’t enough hours in ANYBODY’s day to recover from oopses that aren’t of my own making in ADDITION to the one’s that are!!

    see Another ADD Mile with Kludgy technology [<=== link] for an empathy article that attempts to explain at least PART of the reason behind Hallowell's assertion that we ADDers must work "twice as hard for half as much"

    I always have the option of handling comments "backstage" – a more stable situation (at least until the next “improvement” knocks that out too!) – but that doesn't work for ME very well.

    Especially as continues to grow, I really need some way to demark new/unacknowledged comments to keep ME on track — without having to search the entire blog to locate them.

    So I have been using the new comment notification dropdown set up here on WordPress (working as designed currently) to do so. HOWEVER, as soon as I approve a post, I no longer have that little assist — and I can’t allow responding to comments to be a wild card that upsets the rest of my apple cart. I can’t always respond the minute you comment because I’m busy doing something ELSE. So you languish in limbo.


    It finally ocurred to me that I could “approve & reply” with a brief “be right back” and then return to “edit” my comment from my blog’s “back stage” and accomplish both objectives (sort of). Things — so far, anyway — seem to stay in the “update comment” rectangle until I can click to actually get them out where everyone ELSE can see them too.

    My intention, of course, is to follow up ASAP, but a phone call or other distraction (or the time to complete whatever else I’m in the middle of) sometimes makes that impossible – THEN I “ADD out” until I stumble back for some other reason. So if YOU are waiting for me to “be right back” for more than a day, post another comment to flag me – even if it is only, “Hello? anybody there?”

    I’ll delete posts like that, btw – so you don’t live on the web forever as a nudge – but it will get me back to respond if the day I promised to “be right back” turns out to be one of those days!

    ONE MORE THING — because of narcissists (aka “spammers”) – I have no choice but to take the time to “approve” all comments. So if you posted a response that doesn’t show up immediately, that’s why. I’m pretty good with turn-around, but sometimes I am not able to get online for a day or so, so you may not see your comment during that time for that reason. UNLESS I am ill or out of town for a conference, you won’t languish for too long EXCEPT if you trip my spam filter’s amygdala and get thrown in the trash.

    I have had to allow Akismet to be aggressive in filtering out link-spam because I get so MUCH of it! (check the count on the top of the skinny column to the right – green box and you’ll get why immediately!)

    SO – even if you are not a spammer, you’ll get tossed in spam prison if you include a bunch of links in your comment — then I’ll never see that you tried to comment. Keep it to one or two per comment, and you’ll probably get moved into the approval area for my decision — then I’ll do the above (ONE is safest). You can always return to comment again, right?



  9. Reading your post, Madelyn, I realise I haven’t been through the visioning, purpose and missioning process for a couple of years now…which seems odd as I am working with teachers and education leaders to help them through the process, all the time ( It’s at this point that I realise I am ‘marking time’ and I have no clear idea of what’s next and why. As such, I am feeling a little stale and am asking myself, is that it. So – time for me to sit down and do some serious work.

    One thing that i do raise a flag about are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic goals. I feel that for some the SMARTs can be really confining i.e. their measure of attainable and realistic may be on the safe side and too far inside their comfort zone. It is almost as if the visioning process, which can be freeing and creative, is at odds with the SMART aspect. however, over time and with the help of a mentor or coach, and a community of peers (especially important) the person can be supported and encouraged to become more confident in themselves and to think bigger.
    mgh response: YES!!!

    Don’t get me wrong, I think tools can be incredibly powerful, and can help scaffold the way we chunk up our way of being into something that is manageable such that we are not paralysed with too many choices and a severe case of procrastination. But I do feel it is important to figure out if they are suitable for us personally, and for the people with whom we are working. And certainly, to feel that these tools can be tweaked, adapted and personalised to suit us – our culture, identity, and context(s) 🙂

    Thanks for reminding I also need to work on myself.



    • We’re actually on the same page about this, Hazel.

      You raise an excellent point about the confinement of S.M.A.R.T. boundaries — for the more linear, pragmatic, so-called neuro-typical brain-style. That type of processing does best with encouragement to stretch beyond typical habits of thinking – i.e., “getting outside the box.” For those thinkers, the S.M.A.R.T. concept can’t be introduced into the process early on or it will be counter-productive.

      If it is a step that comes AFTER vision brainstorming, when they begin to LANGUAGE their VPMs, it can become a positive use of structure that can serve to hone and intensify commitment to a laser-focused, empowering “sound bite” that will motivate action when spirits start to flag.

      As I have said before, ADDers need the reminder that there IS a box!

      You wouldn’t BELIEVE some of the To-Do lists I’ve seen 😉

      • pick up dry cleaning
      • organic street vendor 4 cucumbers
      • make pickles for State Fair entry
      • clean house
      • organize mess in garage
      • wash & wax car
      • fabric stores: lace and tulle
      • make dress for wedding
      • learn Chinese
      Well, not quite that impossible, but NO reality at all about what might be accomplished in a day – listing things we need to do, things we want to HAVE done, things we think we should do, and things we’ve ever thought about doing on the same to-do list for the next day.

      At the end of an extremely frazzled day, we beat ourselves unmercifally for being such deadbeats — or come to the conclusion that to-do lists don’t work. What do THINK we’re gonna’ come up with if you give us a huge time-frame like, say, the rest of our lives ::evil grin::

      “My mission is to cure cancer and write a best-selling book about it that they make into a movie directed by an award winning director who casts major stars who decide to join me on my world tour to raise money to save the rain forrest.”

      Different ways of processing – different process needs – you are RIGHT ON about that. I think that’s why it’s best to work with a coach or in some kind of a MasterMind Group to develop the map. Those who need to be encouraged to stretch will get the support they need, and those who need to tighten the focus will will get the feedback they need to be able to do so.

      BY THE WAY – IMHO, you don’t need to work on your SELF – your self is amazing and incredibly accomplished beyond your years — you need to work on your vision of your next Game.

      So do I – which is why I wrote the post. I hope this means you want to play with me around this. I don’t believe I’ve ever been so at sea before – I could use the company! Do you think any of the Ethos Community would be interested in joining in too? I can envision a kind of blogging ping-pong around this. Whad’ya think?


      • It’s great that we are on the same page 🙂

        As someone who (you may, or may not have guessed) is definitely not anywhere close to neuro-typical (but who has very well-developed coping strategies), I sometimes find the reminder that there is a box helpful, but frustrating – and of course I can achieve all of those things, as long as I work 24/7 for the next x amount of time! 😉

        I remember when I first started thinking about setting up my own business, and I felt that “to influence education positively in New Zealand for all learners (young and mature), as well as in other parts of the world” a totally reasonable undertaking. It has shifted a bit, although it still underpins what I do – I just have more bite-sized pieces that I can tick off my monumental to do list ;-)! (BTW I loved your example Wednesday ‘to do’ list!! Had to smile broadly – especially the recognition around ‘not achieving it all’ because the expectations weren’t realistic, and the next day is dawning and you can hear birds singing.)

        What you describe as being able to “LANGUAGE their VPMs, it can become a positive use of structure that can serve to hone and intensify commitment to a laser-focused, empowering ‘sound bite’ that will motivate action when spirits start to flag”, is something I have found to be true again and again when working with mentees – even those whose buttons aren’t pressed by defined tools need this language to capture where they are going next, and to waymark where they are going.

        Without this language (whether you write it down, put it in a mindmap, record it in audio or video, or dance it), we tend to be stuck. So, I feel that as you say, it is recognising that different things press people’s buttons in different ways…and it may not be the same thing every time. Knowing that someone is there, who cares what you have achieved and how, however, seems to be a fairly universal ‘need’.

        Which segues nicely to me being able to say “thank you so much for the positive feedback and support” :-). I would love to join you in the process of visioning next games. and would be honoured to keep you company. I have a feeling I know at least one other person from the Ethos Community who may be keen. Blogging ping-pong – excellent!!



  10. MGH,

    Just started this process myself. Interesting you are blogging about it. For me, the question that got me going was, If I am to play a bigger game in the world, what would that look like? And, what have I let stop me until now? It provides me a target (Vision, Purpose, and Mission), but it also asks me to identify how, at least up until, I have held myself back. For me, Vision, Purpose, and Mission, are great. They are motivating. But, …

    Mission is way too lofty to include a ToDo list for things I need to get done today. I would think most people with ADD/ADHD would agree that Vision, Purpose, and Mission, need to be defined a little differently for the ADD/ADHD brain. For this brain, unless the things to do are granularly sized right for that person, they will get distracted or otherwise take longer than it optimally could take to reach their ultimate success.

    Personally, I need a definition or some other way to define it that can translate into a list of things I can accomplish today to help me make progress today that I can see. Otherwise, it looks too big and far away and I could feel overwhelmed at both the importance of it, and all of the choices or “open loops” involved. I will do better with incremental changes, maybe daily, weekly, or monthly, to the Vision, Purpose, and Mission definitions, along with a new set of S.M.A.R.T. goals to go with that increment.

    For each increment of Vision, Purpose, and Mission, I get to discover, through self-inspection, review, and the use of any tools I might possess like non-dominant writing, free form writing, other forms of creative expression, conversations with others, possibly meditation/mindfulness throughout the day, and even trying to define my unique and complete space within hyper-focus (for those of us with ADD/ADHD) by exploring its many conditions and triggers moving me into and out from hyper-focus.

    With new found insight, my hope is to compassionately move beyond my self-imposed, artificial limitations by activities such as releasing irrational beliefs, learning new skills, even using some rather new strategies known as “Self Hacking”, “Quantified Self”, or “Personal Informatics”, when appropriate. All of this to be done in a matter of days so that I could go back, improvements in hand, and explore Vision, Purpose, and Mission, again for another round of improvements.

    It is my current belief that by looping through this process numerous times, this should allow me to perform and experience life at a higher and more conscious level each time, much more in alignment with whatever my purpose for being is.

    I hope this is a good kick-off to the responses you get.

    I welcome your comments and those from anyone else.

    Steve Kohlenberger
    Success Coach for those passionately wanting to experience a shorter path to their objectives.


    • I’ll be back – need to pop this OFF WordPress or I’ll lose it. AGAIN.

      GREAT comment, btw!

      I’M B-A-A-CK!

      You couldn’t have written a better intro to segue into a description of the new Curriculum I’ve beem developing!

      The first piece is Attention to the Darn Details” to get the functional structure in place through The ADD Lens™ (that’s also where your “what’s been stopping me” kind of stuff fits)

      Next comes a section where the focus is more on Thomas’s Personal Foundation™ stuff we barely had time touch on in ASCT: Incompletions, Tolerations, Standards, Boundaries, Needs, Values – with a few additions of my own, like Support and Synergy – (still noodling the name for that piece of the process, but right now it’s “Mid-Life Make-Overs”). This piece serves as a “funnel” for the final section — and this is where your actionable steps come in, in an iterative process not too disimilar to the one you describe above.

      THEN we move on to DreamCatcher™ where we each develop a Vision, Purpose & Mission, then MasterMind pieces of the process together – reporting progress steps weekly, working with Peer Coaches, etc.

      I beta’d a dilute version of it years ago (“The ADD Personal Foundation” – thanks to T’s permission to tailor his program. Need to make sure Sandy’s still ok with it – I believe PF is an assett of Coach U’s now.)

      ADD-PF was VERY well received by the participants (vanilla AND ADD), but I simply haven’t had the bandwidth to handle what life has thrown at me and debut a new curriculum TOO!! So I’ve been working on it in dribs and drabs over the years.

      It kept growing as I revisited the content and the structure – which is where I am now: editing it into a Training that is DO-able in a time-frame enough people would be likely to sign up for! I’m hoping that will be back up and running shortly – certainly before I have finished creating the materials – so I have a launching platform from which to market it (THAT, and a couple of other new curriculums – am I ADD or WHAT?!)

      Anyway – you’re still on my list for potential trainers after the first one (which will also include a train-the-trainers piece), so I was REALLY pleased to read that you are already thinking along these lines. I want to be able to expand the reach beyond what I can personally facilitate, offering it again (and more widely) without losing momentum on my Brain-Based curriculum due to exhaustion! (Put it in your slow-cooker.)

      AS YOU KNOW ONLY TOO WELL – the blog drama has slowed me down and worn me out! ENDLESS agita. It’s beyond clear that I can’t do what I need to do on this platform, even if it were possible to monetize over here — and maintaining this blog has taken a TON of time it needn’t have taken sans tech agita. I’m impatient to move forward again – its been too darn LONG!!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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