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REI Closes on Black Friday

-on weekdaysREI, the outdoor enthusiast retail cooperative, has opted out of Black Friday and instead has launched their OptOutside Campaign, encouraging consumers to spend time outside on the infamous shopping day rather than be in a mall. If you’re thinking that it’s purely a marketing ploy and that they’ve still got their online commerce site, well – REI’s online retail site will display a “get outside” message and will not be accepting orders. REI is clearly operating within their mission and values.

Mission and Value Statements abound, and your small business may even display them. Do you live that mission and those values or are they merely words on a piece of paper? You may intend to run your organization in line with them but at the end of the day, are your actions in line with your words? Let me give you some real-life small business scenarios:

  • I recently helped a client prepare an employee handbook. In “How We Operate”, the handbook stated that personal phones were not allowed in any meetings. The handbook also stated that the organization is family oriented, and that families come first. Both reasonable statements, but can they exist together? An employee/mom may want to bring her personal cell phone to a meeting in case of a childcare or school concern, but that’s not in line with the policy. Where is the line drawn? If you aren’t clear, your employees certainly aren’t clear, either.
  • A wellness business has a sign on their wall that it is judgment-free, never criticizing their patients, always trusting that the patient is doing the best that they can. Employees read that and wonder, “Does it apply to me? Does my boss always think that I’m doing my best?”

Creating mission, purpose and value statements are valuable for a small business; they help define the DNA of an organization.  Those statements, though, cannot be created in an hour or two and forgotten. They are living, dynamic documents, repeatedly tested by your words and actions. Before they are nicely framed and posted on your wall, run them by a few trusted advisors and ask them to poke holes in the statements. Ask these advisors if they have seen your actions out of alignment with your stated mission, purpose and values. Finally, put yourself in your employee and customer shoes; how do the statements feel from that perspective? Sure, this will take some effort and may require revisions but if you don’t run those tests, your other stakeholders will. And that could mean losing key employees and customers.


5 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Affirmation, Intention or Goal

Over the years, I have heard lots of variations and opinions on affirmations, goals stated “as if”, and positive intentions. One client told me that she had a script of 50 affirmations that she repeated over and over while she was on the treadmill; she had found the affirmations on the web – truly, a script. They were all written as a positive statement, she said them as if they had occurred; so why wasn’t she seeing results that matched those affirmations?

I am a firm believer in crafting personal goals, in the power of positive intentions and I practice it regularly. These personal goals and intentions are well, personal; they are written by me, in line with my values, and believable to me. Others may not see how I’m going to make them happen, may think that they’re too bold or too simple; none of that matters. What matters is that they are meaningful to me and I can see the results as easily as I can see my desk in front of me.

Affirmations written by someone else, an affirmation “expert”, may seem easy, but if you don’t get the results that you want, mindlessly repeating them seems like a waste of time to me. If you struggle with how to create the perfect affirmation, intention or goal, here are my five tips on crafting intentions that work. 

1.) Start by defining what you don’t want; then, find the opposite. For example, if you’re tired of trying to finding quality employees, what you don’t want is: Struggling to find quality employees. The opposite? Easily find quality employees. The focus is not just about quality employees; in these statements, the focus is also on the search – struggle vs. ease.

Prance2.) Words that reflect your thoughts and are words that you actually use are imperative. One person’s “quality” is another person’s “top-notch”, “superior”, or “best of the best.” Again, what someone else thinks of your words is irrelevant; be sure that they feel right and true to you.

3.) Pay attention to your physical reactions to your affirmations. Think of the game “Bejeweled”, where colored jewels slid into place; a successful move resulted in the sound of multiple metallic latches – jewels are locked in place. That’s the sound I hear and the feeling in my gut when my words are right and true for me; it’s as if everything is aligned – values, intention, and action plan .

4.) The balance between SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) intentions and leaving it up to a higher power is a delicate one. I learned this lesson the hard way: early in my coaching career I set an intention based upon a visual: I wanted a bank deposit slip that had so many checks listed on it that it filled both front and back. I could see it so clearly! Well, I got what I wanted but I had neglected to specify that I wanted large checks. I had been contracted by a company to offer an employee workshop; I thought the company was paying me directly, they told employees that the individual employees would pay me. My bank deposit slip was full, front and back – with $49 checks. Lesson learned.

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5.) We can’t possibly know of all possible avenues to an outcome but action with intention is critical. Part of the beauty of intentions is that we don’t know of all the possible paths to an outcome, and the final path is often so much better than anything we could create on our own. That doesn’t mean you can create an intention and leave it up to a higher power completely. Business progress requires decisive, intentional action; couple that with positive intentions and you’ve got a winner.

Go ahead and practice affirmations and positive intentions but please, make sure they are your own – meaningful and in your personal language – and then go make it happen.


Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.