SAFETY DOC PODCAST 65 | How Mantras Crush Intentions and Mission Statements

PODCAST-The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. In other words, a mantra is an instrument of the mind. At the end of the day, the mantra is meant to bring you back to simplicity. We live in such a complex world that it’s easy to get lost in all the details. Mantras can help you circle back to the simplistic approach to life and focus on those things that inspire you and truly make you happy. But beyond that Zen-fuzzy stuff, a solid member-checked mantra is a powerful asset to a businessman.  Dr. Perrodin shares a personal story of how a mantra-true decision to part ways with a business client resulted in an eventual better-then-ever reunion with that client. 

A mantra should not be confused with a mission statement, which is a often-stated, rarely-followed few-sentences-long summation of the company’s goals and underlying philosophies. A mantra, on the other hand, is meant to be very short and catchy, and to communicate an important theme of the company’s culture. 

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Maybe it’s the wisdom of Kenny Roger’s hit song “The Gambler” when he croons “know when to walk away and know when to run” that harkens to the mantra. See, while one can argue that Apple’s mantra, “Think different,” perfectly encompasses the value the company – it just doesn’t work for collectivism of a company aiming to be the benchmark of the industry. It’s confusing as what is the benchmark Apple strives to compare itself to? This creates a paradox because when you become the industry standard are you then directed by your mantra to divert from the formula that has catapulted you to success? I mean, if Apple must also “Think different” – then it would continue to tweak with perfection – perhaps souring the broth that sustains it.


In this episode I talk about parting ways with a long-time client. There was little to debate in my decision, but it stung – I mean, it was a difference in professional opinion and not a failure to deliver a high-quality service. It’s one thing to fumble away the game and another for the team to move to a different venue. I could have taken the money and churned out the task. I didn’t. I cut ties. Cordial. And then something unexpected happened. The client re-considered. My directness and honesty established me as a trustworthy member check. Mantra, intention and mission statement are not synonymous words. Hold the mantra and fold intention and mission statement.


Hubris proclaimed that jackets need not be worn on the ride home. Seemed like a sound statement at the time, I mean, sunny day, water dripping at a steady pace from eaves, snow piles seemingly squatting – the observational evidence was in my corner. I’m a Wisconsin native – and from the northern tier of the state of the truly winter-hardened folk and that’s street credibility, sir. Back to Felix…Most students attending the school for the blind live in dorms during the week and return home Friday afternoon. This exodus occurs by plane, train, bus, van and automobile. Felix boards a bus for a 3 hour ride north. He’s sensible and knows his way around an engine, having been sighted until his early teens. “How warm is it?” he asked. “Pretty warm, Felix,” I responded. He refined his question, “Do I have to wear my jacket or will I be alright without it?” Now I’ve learned that perception is to the beholder. Some people willingly wear jackets in summer while others wear sandals in winter. Felix weighed his options and informed me that he intended to pack his jacket in his luggage and forego the trek in a t-shirt and jeans.

Two hours later, I exited the building and was immediately slapped by an unforgiving northerly wind. It was cold. In fact, it was just 24 without factoring in the windchill. I later learned that the high temperature that day was just 28. Yikes, per my calculations, Felix had about an hour of shivering remaining before he arrived home, yanked his jacket from his luggage and turned the house thermometer clockwise. I felt bad. I was guilty of not checking my information. I would never intentionally advise a kid to forego the coat and embrace the cold. Not a lot gets to me. This did. I talked to Felix Monday morning and he casually said, “I wore my jacket home…”


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Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at


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