The first coach I ever had stressed the importance of having a mission statement for my life. He suggested that most mission states are too long, with language too flowery to be remembered, and without much value apart from framing and hanging on the wall. My coach believed that a mission statement should be clear and focused, with nothing longer than nine or ten words. He encouraged me to take my time and said that I’d know when I had it right. That’s what happened.
After the previous two newsletters I was especially interested when Fast Company Magazine (November 2014) came out with a ten-page cover story titled “Find Your Mission: How to Succeed in Business and in Life.”
Almost in passing the FC article reminded us that working to find a mission is a luxury that most people don’t have. “Choosing a career build around meaning is not a choice available to billions of people who are desperately struggling just to make enough money to find shelter and food…. That is often the only mission that matters.” That is a sober reminder that we who have choices must take that freedom seriously and try to build our lives around our passions and around the unique gifts and opportunities that God has given.
Apparently business schools have focused on an approach that starts with outside, environmental issues like the market for one’s products, the competition, and the culture where we work. This outside-in emphasis largely shapes the business. But many schools and their younger students are recognizing that inside issues are even more important: issues like core beliefs, purpose and especially mission. When inner values are elevated and the mission is clear, employee commitment and engagement are higher; turnover is lower. This is an inside-out emphasis. Companies often are more successful when policies and promotions are measured constantly against adherence to the mission and clear values of the company and its employees. Of course we need both outside and inside approaches as we build companies, ministries and lives but the inner focus may be more significance.
In ten words or less, using concise language, what is the purpose of your work, church, business or life direction? This question is a tough one but worth considering. Do you agree? Please comment. Share your 10 word (or less) mission statement.