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Director of Content

Erika Taylor is the director of content for Professional Remodeler. Contact her at or 972.803.4014.

Finding the North Star

I had no clear, codified personal mission statement to use as a north star

August 06, 2019

I am writing this column from a mountaintop outside of Boulder, Col. And that’s important. Why, you ask? I’ll tell you in a minute, but first let me tell you this. 

Not long ago, I was talking with Mark McClanahan, president of Mosby Building Arts in St. Louis. Mosby is a standout company, so I paid close attention as Mark explained some of how he does his job. He is very much a process guy, so we spent time discussing the way he handles meetings, manages tasks, delegates work, and formulates goals for the business. 

The whole conversation was inspiring, but Mark described one thing in particular that stuck with me. Every three months he takes a day off and goes on a private business retreat. He uses that time to think about the next three months. 

Mark started the retreats awhile back when he realized he wanted to change the way he was handling certain aspects of his leadership role. The first time he went, he wrote out a list of basic values, and used that list to come up with a vision for how he saw himself in his role as president. From there, he came up with a mission state-ment—a one sentence summary of how he was going to achieve that vision. 

But rather than spending one day working on goals, and then forgetting about it until the next quarter, Mark also uses journaling to keep him on track. Reflecting on his progress in an intentional way reminds him of the promises he made to himself during the retreat and helps him stay true to those goals. (The actual journal he uses is templated and comes from a company called Best Self but there are many others that do the same thing.) 

Every three months he takes a day off and goes on a private business retreat. He uses that time to think about the next three months. 

Not long after talking with Mark, I encountered some upheavals in my personal life. I began contending with large questions that get at the very heart of who I am and what is important to me, but in trying to decide how to proceed, I realized that I didn’t really understand my own core values. Sure, I know what I find personally meaningful, but I had no clear, codified, personal mission and values statement to use as a North Star when facing difficult choices. So I took a week off and went up to the mountains to find it. That week started yesterday.

I’m relying on a few sources to help guide me, including the reigning king of personal mission statements, Stephen Covey and his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (The Franklin Covey Institute puts out a nifty little mission statement builder you can use.) 

Most remodeling companies have some kind of mission statement, but often they are too vague. Additionally, Mark’s system of quarterly goals forces business owners to continually check their company’s actions against its aspirations to ensure that there’s no drifting away from the overaching ideals. 

So, whether it’s personal or business, I highly recommend taking time away from your daily outer life to locate your inner one.  

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