Live Your Life by an Ethos

This year I had the opportunity to visit Athens, Greece. It was an amazing experience. I was surrounded by ethos or mantras on t-shirts, hats, and just about anything else that one could print some words on. I saw the famous ethos of the Spartan King Leonidas. When the Persian King, Xerxes sent an emissary to speak with Leonidas to tell him to lay down his weapons. King Leonidas responded with “Come and Get Them” or the ethos of Spartan women to their husbands and sons, as they would send them off to war, “With Your Shield or On It.”

The usage of ethos or mantras dates back some 3000 years ago as Hindus in India used them as chants that aided meditation. Today ethos, mantras, mission, vision, and purpose statements surround us. Do you know your company’s mission or vision statement? If the answer is no, its ok–most people do not remember what these statements are because of their length. The Navy Seals have an ethos that is very long and hard to remember word for word, but there are key lines that are easy to remember such as, “I am that man,” “My word is my bond” and “I serve with honor, on and off the battlefield.” The Nike mission statement says “Bringing inspirations and innovation to every athlete in the world,” but we only know Nike as “Just Do It.” These simple words are powerful and long lasting. They inspire us to be and do better.

I have noticed that as a society we are moving away from living our lives by an ethos. In Greece, college students told that they are not taught about their history. They are taught not to believe in their rich history. Adults would make comments to me that they only believe 40-50% of their history. Today most companies have an ethos, mantra, vision, mission or purpose statement, but what good are these statements if people cannot remember them. If these corporate statements don’t inspire us to be better or do better then they are nothing but empty words on page.

I hope that you will see the power of living your life by an ethos, mantra, vision, mission or purpose statement. I hope that these statements in your lives will be easy to remember and provide you with power and inspiration.

It is my hope that you will create an ethos and live your life by an ethos, mantra, vision, mission or purpose statement to guide you in your life. These powerful yet simple statements will guide you and inspire you to live a more principled life. Several years ago I started living my life by an ethos. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you’ve imagined.”

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