Most individual or corporate mission statements contain industry buzzwords, are so complex that no one can recite them, and do nothing to inspire. The more elaborate it is, the less likely it is understood and remembered. Having a clear and concise mission statement for yourself and your Company becomes your guiding compass as you journey through life.
- Your mission is larger than a job.
Ideally your job will align with your mission. For example, you could be employed as a teacher while your mission is education. To limit your personality and unique abilities to such boundaries causes a profound loss of identity when your job or career changes. The average person can expect to have seven employment changes in a lifetime.
- Your mission is much more than your role.
We all have various roles we fulfill: spouse, parent, manager, friend...In our culture, men tend to define themselves by what they do professionally. Often, women define themselves by their roles or relationships. Linking your role to your mission places you in a vulnerable position because your role is likely to change--most notably through death or divorce. Who were you before your roles?
- Your mission is not your To-Do List.
As Stephen Covey so masterfully points out in First Things First, there is a huge distinction between what is important and what is urgent. Most people fill their to-do lists with activities, which appear to require immediate attention. When writing your mission statement, contemplate the big picture and focus on your core values. Develop your mission first, then list corresponding goals. Otherwise, you can be very busy following a to-do list without creating anything worthwhile.
- You are already living your mission on some level.
Living your mission may not require massive changes. You can begin right where you are now. Increase your awareness daily of what's really important to you. What do you want to be known for? Increased focus allows you to receive, recognize and fully integrate your mission.
- You are born with a purpose.
Everyone's life is important enough to warrant a mission. In the classic movie: It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart portrays a suicidal businessman who experiences what the lives of his friends and loved ones would be like WITHOUT him. Mostly, we don't have this overview or the understanding of how interconnected we are. Every thought we have, word we speak and action we take affects the entire universe.
- Your mission may not appear to be grand.
You don't have to be another Mother Theresa or significantly contribute to the Gross National Product. You've heard the saying: For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the battle was lost. The blacksmith responsible for Paul Revere's horse's feet indirectly helped lead a nation to freedom. Positively affect one life and you can be considered successful.
- Your mission is a perfect fit for you.
Your mission is not something you loathe doing. Years ago, I feared God would want me to be a missionary living in a grass hut and I wanted to postpone this event as long as possible. It was irrational. Think of this: what CEO in his/her right mind would have the sales team switch to accounting? When you are living your mission, you experience pure joy. It is not hard and does not involve suffering. Rather, it resonates with the essence of who you are 100%: at work, at home, at a party and alone. Accept a mission that fits you, not the needs or expectations of others.
- Your mission is not the same as that of your peers.
While crafting your mission statement, temporarily disassociate yourself from your peers. We are often influenced by and take as our own the values and goals of those in our network, thus inhibiting self-discovery. This distancing will allow you to concentrate on what is important and unique to you.
- Your mission is your true heart's desire.
You may be in a career that parallels your dream. I'd like to have a dollar for every magazine editor, advertising copywriter or reporter whose real dream is to be a full-time novelist. Go for the REAL THING. Ask yourself: Is this the highest thing I could do in my life?
- Your mission inspires you to take action.
Great leaders can state their mission concisely. Nelson Mandela's mission was to end apartheid; Mother Theresa 's mission is to show compassion to the dying. If you don't feel passionate about your mission, it isn't your mission. Choose action verbs that are meaningful to you. For example, my mission is to breathe, ignite and magnify personal power. Join the 1% of the people in the world who have a clear sense of who they are and where they are going.
Reprinted with Permission from The Small Business Knowledge Base