Military units have long had mottos to help guide their members to their desired vision of what their members should be like.
Old families too.
Ancient institutions like the Royal Family and universities have had mottos since their beginnings.
So why shouldn’t you?
One classic military motto is:
Royal Gurkha Rifles: Better to die than live a coward.
My favourite educational one is:
Monash University: Ancora Imparo (I am still learning)
A motto acts like a heuristic. It acts like a mental shortcut you can use in times of uncertainty, stress and panic.
Imagine you were a Gurkha with the motto above: Better to die than live a coward.
Pretty hardcore right?
Every day at mealtimes, you saw that on your regimental crest.
Your fellow brother soldiers said that. Your regimental forebears said that. You say that.
You end up believing in that to your bones and to your soul. I’m better dead than being a coward.
So when the time comes, you don’t even think about running away. You stay steadfast.
Better to die than live a coward.
That’s the power of a motto.
The motto that me and Angelique have adopted is an unofficial motto from the US Marine Corps (and from Clint Eastwood in the US Marine Corps classic movie Heartbreak Ridge)
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
I love this motto. It’s now mine.
Nothing ever goes to plan. Ever.
So when things go awry, you can either stay stuck in the headlights and complain that things haven’t gone to plan, or you can take swift action and keep moving forwards.
Improvise and adapt. Then overcome.
If you don’t get a raise. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Make yourself more valuable.
If you lose a court case. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Cut your losses and let it go.
If you don’t make the team. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Train harder and learn how to win.
If you don’t get the girl. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Make yourself more attractive.
If you fail. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Get up, assess why you failed and make a new plan.
It’s a remarkably positive and practical motto that keeps me upbeat and focused on solutions.
Now it’s your turn.
What could be your motto? What kind of person do you want to be? What motto could help you stay on track towards that vision of yourself?
Let me know in the comments below!