What You Really Need Is A Manifesto

One really awesome way to give your personal productivity a nice boost is to get your very own manifesto. Not to be confused with the mission statement, a manifesto is like the mission statement’s tougher, cooler older brother or sister. The awesome one that everyone likes, everyone respects and everyone emulates because they’re totally punk rock and better than you at everything.

Don’t let the most famous manifesto dissuade you either. Yes, I know Karl Marx wrote one. But so did Guy Kawasaki, career renegade Jonathan Fields and designer Bruce Mau. In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to people’s manifestos on various topics ranging from change and achievement to creativity and how to give a compelling presentation.

A manifesto is a bold statement, or extended mantra, that sets a tone for your day, your career, heck, even your life. It’s a road map to awesomeness that should induce a surge of adrenaline pulsing through your body with each reading.

The Jerry Maguire Fiasco was an isolated incident.

But don’t confuse this soon be be penned narrative on your inherent greatness with the dreaded Jerry Maguire fiasco. That won’t happen. Sure, he had an epiphany, ran out in the middle of the night after writing his impassioned document to get it printed and bound at Kinko’s, only to hand it out to everyone, freak out, have second thoughts and then find himself having to scream “show me the money” into a telephone.

This isn’t your destiny.

(Note: Jerry did however win in the long run by sticking to his vision.)

And besides, your manifesto is for you and you only. It’s a catalyst for what is to come. Because the truth is that nothing can really stop you from doing what you want to do except a lack of passion. Your manifesto is food for that inner engine that will drive you forward. This is fantastic productivity fuel.

What is stopping you?

Now I want to have a really transparent, honest moment. Here’s a big secret, but it may be tough to swallow. This is also a confession. Okay, here goes: When I’ve had set backs, failures, disappointments in my career, at the heart of it all has been the bitter truth that I didn’t want it badly enough.

I trudged my way toward a goal because it seemed like the thing to do. There was no focus; there was no passion; there was no manifesto. I’ve learned my lesson. Now I write them all the time. And they don’t need to be etched in stone or on some elaborate bronze tablet for it set a tone. What matters is that you believe in your words and more importantly, that you believe in yourself.

Pen…Meet Paper.

All it takes is those first few words committed to paper and you’re on your way. So write. Get something down on paper, or in a word doc, a napkin might even be nice. Mine would have a coffee stain on it for effect. Keep refining your manifesto as you go. This is a living document, not dogma. But, it should inspire; the words should ring true. They should speak to you, motivate you and catapult you toward what you really want to accomplish.

This may seem an odd exercise, but some of the greatest companies on earth have manifestos, mantras, and driving principles that come to define the essence of who they are and these documents are foundational to their success. Why should you be any different? Don’t you deserve the same?

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Coe Douglas is a recovering advertising agency creative director and occasional music video director. He currently works as a freelance writer and brand strategist, helping companies find their voice and tell their story. He blogs and lives online at coedouglas.com


  1. Giber on the 16th November

    Hey there,

    In spite of this post’s brevity, I’ve found it to be an extremely well articulated article. I’m finishing up my manifesto and I happened to stumble on your blog. I hope you continue to have great success.
    All the best,

  2. Lou Rodriguez on the 21st February

    I’ve been through my own process of evolving while blogging and in the last days, as I was furiously writing down notes, I had a sudden thought; I need a manifesto.

    This post made that all the clearer and I thank you for writing it!

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