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Out of Our Minds
Thursday, March 02, 2006 8:51 AM
A Personal Work Manifesto
Anita Sharpe on Passionate Work

A great story in Vanity Fair magazine this month about a talented screenwriter named Zach Helms who kept getting his scripts optioned by Hollywood, but never made into movies. This changed after he wrote his personal work manifesto (the story isn't available online.) Among his rules:

* I will no longer allow financial need or career ambition to determine the direction of my work. I will not put myself in any position in which my work is owed to another party.

* I will not write for writing's sake. I will write only when inspired to write.

After reading this, I remembered that I had written a personal career manifesto a while back. With a few exceptions (when you're building a business, you have to do some things that don't play perfectly to your strengths), I've stuck to it:

* I will spend at least 80% of my time working at things that play to my strengths.

* I will only do work where I have a strong degree of creative control.

* I will spend my days doing work that I believe adds something positive to the world.

* I will not work with (and certainly never for) bullies or dishonest or mean people.

* Freedom of movement is key to my doing my best work. I will never work in a controlling environment.

What about you? Anyone else ever written a personal work manifesto?


Ivie S. - 3/21/2006 9:48:16 PM
Hi Anita, This helps me stay focused and helps keep a discouraging day at bay.
I do work at home and enjoy doing cold calls, I know my friends call me crazy, but I have a good time working a portion of my biz with this lost art. Anyway, sometime ago after soul searching and truly looking at my strengths and some weaknesses I came up with this and it has made a big difference in my mindset and the people I chose work with.

My Mission Statement

To Communicate, Demonstrate and Embrace the Talents which have been to given to me.
To Enliven, Motivate and Nurture those that work with me to Find Their own Strengths and Path.
And most of all, Remain Relaxed and Renewed for Each and
Everyone that Comes to me.
So, for me 3 words sum it all up

I keep this posted in my office where I can see it daily.

PaulaZT - 3/9/2006 1:40:41 PM
Anita, et al, what a great topic!

I have a motto around my work that is like a manifesto, except I've never written it down. I've been saying it for several years and have told a couple of people, which gives it a little power.

'I refuse to work for someone that I don't like or respect. It is not worth my mortality.'

I'm more of a pink collar worker. I've been an Admin Assistant most of my career. Of course now my skills are good enough that I can pick and choose a new job - as long as it's in a support position.

I have another motto, 'No matter what the work is, I will find a way to make it interesting and to improve on the process.'

So, I think it's time to create a manifesto for the next job which feels like it's going to be a move up and in the next six month to a year.

Thanks for the nudge!

Dewey - 3/3/2006 2:03:49 AM
Hi, everybody. I thoroughly believe in writing down what you believe in and describing the behvior that supports that.

I sometimes work with folks to make personal strategic plans that're a lot like manifestos- it includes a life purpose statement, core values, behaviors that support those values, a strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats analysis and strategies and goals that that go with these. Then we create an action plan from that. Whew!

I feel strongly that anybody can do this work and it's not a luxury for the elite- we all have values and can work to make our lives, particularly our work lives, support those values (working with a coach does cost money, but you can find resources to do it on your own, or talk to coach training programs to get hooks up with coaches in training who will do free or reduced fee coaching while they're learning)

The nice thing about turning your manifesto into a plan is this: it's a stepped approach- you make changes in increments. It takes the declaration and then asks, 'What are the steps to get there, or to have this more fully?'

Just a few thoughts... How can you turn your manifesto into a plan? How does your manifesto reflect your values? Where is else in your life are those values showing up and need some of that manifesto energy?

DK - 3/2/2006 2:03:01 PM
I did a similar exercise recently around the issue of 'this I believe': http://www.phatgnat.com/log/2006/February/23/485/
martin - 3/2/2006 12:58:30 PM
You know Anita, I thought that I never wrote a manifesto. However, after leaving a company that was compromising my personal and professional beliefs, I wrote a business plan that was more like a manifesto than a traditional B-plan. I used every soul-crushing experience that I endured or participated in and wrote a plan that was based in the ideals of 'purpose'.

Funny. I had never looked at it as a manifesto. Thanks for helping me remember that.
Catherine howell - 3/2/2006 10:23:25 AM
I love that Anita, both from you and the screenwriter. I think personal manifestos can be very powerful, giving you an overall gameplan.

One question: Are they elitist in some way? Can a working-class person create a similar gameplan if it's a paycheck-to-paycheck situation? I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this.


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