I’ve been on a personal mission the last several weeks, and to be 100% honest with you, I’m a little frustrated.

I say this is because I thought it would be cool to ask contractors around the country about their mission statements and what they do to work with their employees so that they understand and embrace them. I wanted to know how contractors are “Being Their Missions.”

I’m passionate about mission statements. A well-crafted mission statement serves as a “North Star” that keeps everyone clear on the direction and purpose of the organization. 

I was startled to learn that many owners and managers could only recite a portion of their mission statements.  Some of these leaders are the same people that created their missions!  Some managers said they didn’t know what their mission statements were, but they could recall seeing them in a handbook or paperwork somewhere.  And a few managers said that they only saw them when they were hired.

How frustrating. What’s the point of a mission statement if no one even knows what or where it is?

You can’t just have a mission statement buried away. A mission statement is completely useless unless everyone is living the mission and being the mission. Everyone must be part of your company’s mission. 

I think it’s fair to assume that many mission statements are collecting dust on shelves because they’re uninspiring. If this is true of yours, here’s a simple rule. Focus not just on your “What,” but on your “Why.”

Average companies focus primarily on their “What.” They focus on what they make or sell or do. Sounds logical right? However, the most successful companies will focus on their “Why”— why they do what they do. If you focus on your “Why”, you’ll be able to craft a truly inspiring mission statement.

Let’s look at a couple of great examples: 

Nike. What do they do? They make shoes. Why? “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” As Nike’s co-founder once said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”  

Apple. What does Apple do? They make computers. (Some people call the Apple products they put in their pockets and purses “phones,” but let’s get real. They’re computers). What’s Apple’s “Why?” “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” (I don’t know about you, but that mission gives me cold chills).

People don’t just buy products and services. They buy belief systems. They buy the belief that Nike and Apple are about more than just making and selling products. The “Whys” of these companies are much more important than their “Whats.”

I challenge you to blow the dust off your mission statement and if it’s not awesome, fix it. If you don’t have a mission statement, there’s no time like the present to create one.

Create a mission statement that you’ll be proud to share and discuss with employees on a regular basis. Say it, share it, and most importantly, be it.

Create a big poster, frame it and put it where everyone can see it. If appropriate, put multiple posters throughout your office. Make sure it’s visible to all. I’d also recommend creating small versions of your mission statement that office employees can keep on their desks. Make it look nice. Spend a bit of money. It’ll be worth it if your staff proudly displays your mission where they can look at it throughout the day.

If you’re truly inspired by what you’ve created, it should be easy to inspire others, too. A key to success is to never stop discussing your mission. Invite your staff to share examples of how the company, and individuals that make up your company, are living your mission. Then, celebrate.

Don’t ever think your work is done. You need to train new employees about your company’s mission, and you need to make sure you communicate to your entire company how important it is to think about and live your mission every single day. The quickest way to ensure your mission will fade from memory is if you stop talking about it.

Be the inspiration. “Be the Mission.”

Publication date: 3/12/2018

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