Most companies have mission statements. Some are inspirational, some are mediocre, and a few are utterly pointless. Most are carefully worded statements aimed to capture the activities of the organization in a concise way.
My work brings me face to face with mission statements (and vision statements, and values statements, and mantras, etc…) all the time. Such statements are important for setting a solid foundation for a brand, but too many leaders mistake having a mission statement with actually being on a mission.
Do you get the difference?
Take a moment and dig deep down. Are you truly on a mission? Are you really compelled in the core of your being to pursue the activities of your organization in pursuit of something bigger than just a transaction?
The statement isn’t really the important part. The important part is to understand the mission that you are on, regardless of how you articulate it for everyone else. The important part is that you are doing something that is meaningful to you. Something non-negotiable. Something worth doing.
Too often leaders spend more time debating the wording of the mission statement than they do exploring and confronting their true motivations for action. The effort is based more on sounding valuable rather than being authentic, while not offending anyone and trying to inspire everyone. Instead of being on a mission, organizations end up being on a mission statement. And we all know how well that works.
This is why most mission statements fall flat when shared, even with people who align closely with the organization.
When we think of brands that capture our imagination and thrive, from famous brands to local community brands, it becomes clear that these brands represent the few leaders that are actually on a mission. These leaders have a purpose beyond profit, and they are compelled to act on it. Their mission statement—the collection of words that articulate their mission for everyone else—is really just a simple way to share the their plan with others.
Having a mission statement without being on a mission is the equivalent of having a mug with “World’s Greatest Dad” written on it. It’s not the mug that makes you a great dad, and you can be a great dad without the mug.
You don’t need a mission statement; you need to be on a mission.
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