Mission statements are hard. They are hard to write and they are hard to live by. Even just writing an “About Me” statement was challenging, and I know exactly who I am. I sat down, typed a bunch of words, read and re-read, edited and edited some more, and then realized I wasn’t quite sure that’s how I wanted to describe myself to the world… Let’s just say I’m still editing.
Businesses can struggle the same way because it’s hard to expertly put into words why customers and employees should choose them over their competitors. A mission statement is “a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time.” Out of several examples that I’ve read, it seems that the most important part starts with “To.” To provide great customer service, to cause no destruction, to create a great place to live… The mission statement is not only an action, it creates a feeling.
In the TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek expertly demonstrates how some organizations and people can motivate people to act. He calls it the Golden Circle and it simply goes through the process of why, how and what in that exact order. He asks, “Why should anyone care?” I think this is where mission statements must start. Why should I do what I do and why should I do it for this company?
Sinek continues by mentioning the idea that if you hire people just because they can do a job, they will work for money, but it you hire them because they believe what you believe, they will work for you through blood, sweat and tears. This type of passion has to come from inside an individual. It can’t be a canned mission statement that is memorized and repeated. Leaders and organization creators must truly believe in their cause in order for talented employees to live the mission. They have to believe whole-heatedly in the “why” that it oozes out of the company effortlessly.
Then, the how and the what come naturally. As humans, we are able to figure out how we need to accomplish tasks in order to complete the desired outcomes. Businesses can encourage the motivation of employees if they have a clear idea of their commitments. Mission statements don’t have to cause eye-rolls or misguided attempts at camaraderie, and they won’t if they start with a purpose. Find the passion, find the “why” and you will be able to find the people who will passionately work for your cause.
Do you know your company’s mission statement? If yes, does it align with your values? If no, learn it today and see how it aligns with your values, your “why.”