By Scott Westerman
“When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.” – W. Clement Stone
I was recently assigned the task of reading the mission statements of a group of business units. I did. I can’t remember a word. Each one filled at least a page, many took two pages. None of them made an impression.
When I was a Comcaster, our mission was to, “.. deliver a superior experience to our customers every day. Our products will be the best and we will offer the most customer-friendly and reliable service in the market.” I admit to having looked it up on the Internet to remember it. Even though it was on the screen behind me each time I addresed a group of new hires, it was still a little hard to remember.
So I tried to distill it one step further, saying, “We leverage the best technology and excellent customer service to add value to the lives or our customers, employees and shareholders.”
Here at the MSU Alumni Association, we call ourselves “Your Personal Network… for Life”. What that means is that MSUAA is the lifelong conduit between the University and our half-million alumni worldwide. And here’s the heart of our mission: “We add value throughout Spartan lives and encourage Spartans to continue to invest in Michigan State University.”
In my experience, mission statements resonate best when they are clear, short and emotional. They instantly create a vivid mental picture that stays with you. Some of my faves include:
Habitat for Humanity: “A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.”
Ebay: “Providing a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.”
YMCA: “Improving the mind, body and spirit of the community.”
Google: “Organizing the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
What about you? What’s your mission statement? Why are you here? What value to you hope to bring to the world?
As you ponder these questions, imagine the person you hope to become. Your mission statement should inspire habits and behaviors you will develop over the coming months to move you in that direction.
It should also be positive and in sync with who you are. To many of us visualize our dreams through the eyes of others. As Rick Nelson sang, “You can’t please everyone, so you have to please yourself.”
A real estate agent I know defines his mission as, “Helping you buy or sell your dream home in the highest professional manner, with total integrity and knowledge.”
A personal trainer friend says she is “chasing my joy by helping others improve the quality and quantity of their lives, through fitness and nutrition.”
Think you’re too old for a mission statement? In the words of Richard Bach, “Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
So think about writing it down. That act alone puts you ahead of 90% of the rest of the world and moves you much closer to becoming the person you want to be.
Make your life a mission, not an intermission!