In today's organizational environment, mission statements provide the clarity of purpose for the systematic operation of all processes, strategies, and performance. For many it's nothing more than a buzz word or catch phrase. However, a mission statement acts as a compass for all activities throughout the organization. It is a well-conceived statement that guides each decision by leaders and managers. All situations are weighed on the scale of the mission statement and if a decision doesn't fit within the framework, it's discarded. It provides a clear picture of the organization, why it exists, and how it accomplishes certain outcomes.
We expect organizations, whether public or private, to have such a guide for operations. We expect to see it posted on websites, within the offices, on business cards of associates, etc., and we weigh what we experience by the words we read. Although often subliminal, we expect to receive the benefits of a product or organization based on its mission statement. Merriam-Webster defines mission as a task or job that someone is given to do. Therefore, we expect a mission statement to outline an organization's purpose for existence. We gauge its effectiveness by such a statement and associate trust and confidence in the brand. Thus, organizational leaders strive to gain a competitive advantage through the working of the mission statement.
When we hear the term mission statement, we automatically associate it with companies and the organizational environment. However, we never think to associate the term to our personal life. The concept of a mission statement, as applied to an organizational environment, can be, and should be, applied to each of us. As in an organization, it should guide our daily thoughts, activities, goals, strategies, and performance toward a higher purpose. It should be clear, attainable, and contributing to our brand. That's right, each of us has a brand - something that we are known for (competitive advantage) and how others see us. When they hear our name, this is their first thought. Below is my personal mission statement:
to develop leaders for the 21st century organization through personal interaction that will empower them to effectively lead others, shape their world, and create value for their organization and communities.
The statement acts as a guide each day. Every project that I consider or situation that I face is judged by this statement. If it doesn't fit, I disregard. I can't be all things to all people but I can be a few things to some. Therefore, I use my mission statement to maximize my impact. It is comprised of three parts: First, is the purpose. Developing leaders for the 21st century organization is something that is much larger than me. It is a selfless action with a guide to helping others rise above the boundary of mediocrity. Second, through personal interaction, I must touch them in some way. Not physically, but emotionally. I must speak to their passion and help them find their purpose in life. Finally, the outcome, to create value, is prevalent. This is the reason for the other two parts of the statement. I should be able to measure this in some form. Therefore, whether as a personal consultant or while leading a workshop or seminar, the purpose is the same.
A few years ago, I performed some consulting with a real estate agent. He was a great agent, extroverted and knowledgeable, but was very unorganized. He had no daily plan and was easily distracted. Therefore, he struggled with making and meeting sales goals. He was simply existing in the business while watching others enjoy their success. When I asked him why he was in the real estate business, he gave me an empty gaze, which told me immediately that he had no idea of his mission. He was focused on earning a commission instead of having a clear understanding about his mission. The first thing I did was to help him define a clear and workable mission statement. The finished product, helping individuals, families, and businesses realize and achieve their real estate dreams and goals through a rewarding experience of effective communication, personalized customer service, and optimal negotiation, opened a new world to him. His mission now became clear and one that he could use as a guide. We began working on strategies to help him focus on helping people instead of commissions and ways to measure his activities during his pursuit. Today, he is one the leading agents in his company, an outcome that he relates to a clear mission statement.
I have outlined the three major parts of a personal mission statement: overall purpose, action, and outcome. However, there are three necessities that you must consider before creating your personal mission statement:
Know your strengths. You won't find your mission outside of them. It's more than what you like. I like basketball but don't posses the talent for the game due to my height. It's about what you were made to do. Your natural talents are what God gave you. It is here you find your strengths to use them. To attempt to tackle a mission outside of them sets you up for failure. If you don't know and understand your talents and strengths, which most people cannot name them, there are a lot of resources you can use to find them. Search for such resources. Ask others, they are probably aware of them and will probably be painfully honest.
Be clear about your outcome. It's not about you. It is, however, about others. When you make it about them, they will make it about you. You will be happier when you work to fulfill your purpose toward a specific outcome. Make the wording based on the three sections outlined above. Write it down, revise it, and read it often. Be able to tell others in detail about your mission. Brand yourself in all you do. When others mention your name, it should be associated directly to your mission. Schedule your activities based on this new-found clarity. Seek out ways to market it to your friends, community, and beyond your circle.
Commit to your mission. If you're clear about the details, commitment becomes easier. Doing so provides the strength to withstand adversity. Not everyone will accept your mission statement, especially those who have known you for some time. However, when adversity comes, you have a plan that can withstand the storm. You are clear about your purpose and the actions needed to pursue it. However, be adaptable. Continually measuring the effectiveness of your mission statement is critical. Adjust where necessary but keep the foundational content. I've seen too many people who have refused to adapt and be left by change.
Do your want to stay mediocre? Each of use have a purpose and a mission. Yet, most never realize it, much less pursue it. Having a clear mission statement will help keep you on track and help you rise above mediocrity. Begin work on yours today!!