10 Steps to Simplified Decision Making

June 3, 2014

10:30 am

“When you are inspired by some great purpose…all of your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new…wonderful world. Dormant faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali

Organic Rice Field With Dew DropsThis quote wakens us to the possibility of our lives and business; how powerful. There’s just one problem: it hinges on the line “being inspired by some great purpose.” So, what is the purpose of your life? [Tweet this.]

In my article Just Say Yes: How Your Personal Mission Statement Will Simplify Business Decisions, I shared the importance of your personal mission statement or as I like to call it, “ignition statement,” because it gives you purpose in each of your daily efforts, not just at work, but in all things.

To better explain this, let me share a short story with you. When my sister Susan was seven years old, I was burned in a house fire on 100% of my body and not expected to survive.

My parents weren't at home, but my older brother Jim got me out of the house. As I lay in the front yard in excruciating pain, I was not certain I wanted to live. Susan, still in her nightgown as she had been awoken by the fiery explosion, remembers that in that moment “nothing else existed, the only thing she knew or cared about was helping me overcome the tremendous pain. So she went into our burning house, got water from the sink and threw it on my face…to calm the burning.” She repeated that two more times. [Watch my interview with my sister here.]

Susan wasn't thinking about it – she was just doing it. She was reacting with her gut because she knew her purpose in that moment and she was able to block out the rest of the noise.

Now, every moment in your life isn't life or death, but to help you get clear on your purpose statement: it’s easiest to start from that viewpoint. Let’s get clarity around what you are willing to die for so we can get really clear on what you are living for.

Pull out a piece of paper.

Every business has a mission statement. Today you're going to create your ignition statement and I'll guide you through a series of reflection questions to get there.

1. Your house is on fire. You can only save five things. What are those five things? [Tweet this.] Take a moment and list them.

Getting clear on the five things that you are willing to die for, should give you clarity on what you are actually living for each day. I ask this of my clients around the world at my 150+ events each year. No matter if my event is in America or China or with clients in technology or health care: the answers tend to be children, spouse, family, friends, faith, health, memories, and possibility.

Getting really clear on this list should empower you to live your best each day and answer these four questions [begin each of your answers with “Because”]:

2. Why will I thrive in life?

3. Why will I invest fully in this [“this” refers to each and every activity you have during the day]?

4. Why will I strive to make a difference today?

5. Why will I seek to live out the mission of our business?

Now, take a moment to review all of your answers.

Done? Review them one more time.

6. Now, write one statement, beginning with “because” that summarizes the previous four statements (this is the first draft of your ignition statement.)

7. Read it. Cross it out. And refine your answer, starting again with “because.”

8. Again, cross it out. Now, close your eyes and picture yourself: at your work, grabbing a morning coffee, during your commute, tucking your kids in at night, mowing your lawn – what is the bigger purpose behind EVERYTHING that you do. Are you picturing it?

Alright. We are getting close, aren’t we? I'll tell you my ignition statement, the “why” behind everything I do: “Because” God demands it, my family deserves it, and the world is starved for it.

This is why I go to work. This is why I make extra effort to be home to tuck my kids in at night. This is why I take time to talk with everyone I meet, offering a smile and listening ear. This is why I make time to actively appreciate my wife and all that she does. This is why I travel around the world, maintaining a crazy speaking schedule. This is why I take time off during the workweek to have special days with my family. Yours can be totally different, but it must be personal and it must fire you up.

9. Now, again, rewrite your statement.

10. This is your ignition statement. Write it someplace you can reflect on it daily for the next two weeks; until it has become ingrained. My friend, allow yourself to be inspired by this greater purpose. “All of your thoughts will break their bonds; your mind will transcend your current limitations; you will find yourself in a new…wonderful world.”

I would love you to share your ignition statement! Please post in the comments below, or if you aren't ready to make it “public” yet, email it to me at:

This is the final article in a three-article series. Read the first two articles: No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regret: How Saying No Allows You to Say Yes; and Just Say Yes: How Your Personal Mission Statement will Simplify Decision-Making.

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Expected to die, John O’Leary now teaches others how to truly live. John was burned on 100% of his body in a house fire at age nine. He was given less than one percent chance to survive. The next five months spent in intensive care transformed his life. Instead of ending tragically, the fire gave him the greatest gift: embracing the truth that regardless of our challenges and circumstances, we choose how to navigate adversity, determine our vision for what’s possible and realize the profound impact our lives have on others. Today, 28 years later, John has shared this truth as an internationally-acclaimed speaker, writer and expert on leadership and life with more than 1,000 organizations. Some of John’s clients include: Southwest Airlines, LEGO, Wells Fargo and Young Presidents’ Organization. John is the president of Rising Above, a leadership lifestyle organization designed to encourage you to take back your life, ignite your possibility and change your world. Rising Above offers personal and professional development resources and a community of like-minded individuals. Join the Rising Above community and receive daily inspiration at