“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time being; but whichever it is, he should steadily focus his thought forces upon the object which he has set before him. He should make this purpose his supreme duty, and should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings. This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.” – James Allen
Like the “chicken or the egg” idea, it’s easy to get confused between “mission and vision”. We’ve got a simple and clear answer to this dilemma. Like the chicken and the egg, vision and mission are inextricably linked and individually valuable. It doesn’t really matter which comes first because they both must exist and grow with each other simultaneously. If vision is a statement of where and individual or organization is going then mission is a statement of how they plan to get there. This statement to be effective must answer some essential questions. It must deal with; the recognition of who we are today, why our organization exists, what are the essential responsibilities for which we are willing to be held accountable and who are our major stakeholders and clients? Most importantly it should deal with our objectives and the reasons for them, including the underlying values and principles.
Mission Proves the Relevance of Existence
The best mission statements that I have seen clearly delineate the importance of the people that have to carry it out. It asserts a statement of existence–of being if you will. Without a clear verbal distinction of who “we” are, there is no mission! Everything exists for a reason and the reason is always tied to a purpose. You see, no mission has real relevance without people to carry it out and no organization has relevance without a meaningful existence. This delicate balance begins with the basic definition of self. It answers the eternal question, “who am I?”
It is, therefore, important for individuals and organizations to put a stake in the ground and claim their place in the universe. Making a serious effort to define existence creates serious synergy within any organization. Coach Powell Training & Development is a Northern Virginia based passion-filled organization that brings together the best in leadership and management science as it applies to small business growth. Our unique timeless system known as VisionQuest90(TM) is the natural outgrowth of our many years of research and experience. That’s who we are. These simple statements not only describe the nature of our company but begin to bring the reason for our very existence into focus.
Many organizations forget the importance “self-definition” during their initial business planning stages opting instead to be defined by the markets that they choose to serve. This is probably a good move for short term gain and notoriety but in the long run, this idea will definitely take you off course and off mission. The end result is an organizational disaster that’s usually played out in downsizing or deep budget cuts with bloated position descriptions of impossible expectations for team members. In other word’s, it leads to blatant mismanagement of people and resources. How’s that for success, or shall I say, the lack of?
It’s also most important to define who you serve. Who specifically will be the beneficiary of your organization’s collective talent? Who will grow, change or be positively affected by engaging you in some way? Who is the target market that is waiting there for you to come along and finally take all of their troubles away with your solution? No matter what, you have to define them and then put processes in place to attract them to you. You might call this marketing and sales!
Everybody has stakeholders. Who is depending on you to do what you do? How will they benefit? To take the ultimate test of relevance, explore what would or would not happen if you or your organization didn’t exist at all? Would your clients be happy? Would your teammates have a sense of belonging somewhere? Would someone else be fulfilled doing what you do, being who you are?
This leads us to the next phase of “mission” which we will explore in our next submission “Use Mission to Clarify Responsibility in Absolute Terms”. Stay tuned to www.ninetydaypowerplay.com for this and an entire suite of useful tools for you and your organization. The site changes often and new offers are often made so come back often.
Next in series
- Use Mission to Clarify Responsibility in Absolute Terms
- Mission Tell How Objectives Are Met
- Focus Your Purpose Ultimately With Mission