man·i·fes·to ˌma-nə-ˈfes-(ˌ)tō: noun: a written statement that describe the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or organization
Remember in the movie Jerry McGuire when Jerry (Tom Cruise, my secret BF) writes that memo about how he wanted the sports agent world to change it’s priorities? Well, that’s basically what a manifesto is…it’s a statement of how you want to live your life, or to run your business. At UnleaSHed, we’re currently drafting our manifesto, and we’ve found that it’s harder than it would at first appear. This quote of Mark Twain’s keeps coming to mind…
“I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead”
At it’s heart, a manifesto is about clarity, as it’s based on the Latin word “manifestum,” which means clear or conspicuous. It’s a way of talking about who you are, what you do, and what your business is that cuts through all the noise and chatter. It’s what matters most to you.
It’s not easy to take all of your goals, priorities, values, and vision and put them into concise, cohesive messages. It’s kind of a messy process, so I thought I’d outline a few steps that might make it a little easier.
Get inspired. Start thinking about the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you believe in?
- Where do you want to be in five years?
- What DON’T you believe in?
- What makes you different?
Get writing. Do a free write where you just write until you can’t think of one more word. Get it all out of your mind and out your fingers/pen. Here’s the deal: you don’t need to get it perfect. It just needs to come out of you so you can start to build it. If you’re having a hard time, think about what it would be like if you had to give a speech about who you or who your business is….not what you do, or what you sell. But WHO YOU ARE.
Write and re-write. Re-write again. And then again. Get your messages as short as you possibly can. Use verbs and be as specific as you can be. But here’s the most important thing: make sure it sounds like YOU. Your voice should come through loud and clear.
Get creative. Make art with it. Use paint or crayons or fabric or whatever speaks to you. Write it out in your own handwriting. Whatever you chose to do, just remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Let it ebb and flow and evolve. You’re not done growing and learning, and your manifesto should reflect that. But it can serve as a sort of filter for opportunities, risks, and challenges. Post it in your office, bring it to every team meeting. Make it a living, breathing part of your business. And once a year, take a good, hard look at it and make sure it still says everything it needs to, and not one thing extra.
Need some inspiration?
Check out the Pinterest board I created HERE.
And lastly, here is one of my very favorite from lifemanifestos.com