To get you started on the thinking process I want to give you some guidance on how to craft a good mission statement. Keep in mind that this is a working document that you can and should update throughout your career. Don’t get paralyzed trying to come up with the perfect statement and it may even help to develop a couple different ideas to help you work through the exercise.
There are many different ways that people suggest to write mission statements. There are a few common themes that I tend to see used in really good statements – “what” is it that you do, “why” and/or “how” will you do it, and “who” do you do it for:
- Focus on something that is a core value – what is important to you as far as how your career will contribute to the world. This is the “why” of what you do and can even incorporate the “how” of your mission.
- What are your strengths as far as what you can contribute to a company or business? This is where you focus on the “what” of your statement and make sure to incorporate something that you are really good at.
- Many mission statements forget to mention the target of the mission which is also an extremely important factor and should not be limited to just yourself. While your mission may be intended to make you successful, that is more of the result of a well-executed mission. Make sure to incorporate the “who” which is the target of your mission which can be a group of people or can even refer to a business/entity as the “who”.
The last, but probably most important step, is inspiration. Mission statements are really good when they inspire others to “join your cause” and in many cases are the result of you being inspired by others. We are by our very nature social beings and not only require social interaction for positive mental health, but we also are heavily influenced by each other – in both positive and negative ways. Great mission statements are almost infectious in that they can change people’s behavior and thinking. As you develop your personal mission, think about who/what has inspired you in your life and how you wish to inspire others throughout your career.
Here are some examples, what do you think about how these companies/people incorporated the why, what, who and how of the process?
- “Providing people with essentials for a better life by adding convenience to daily routines with some of the world’s most recognized products.” -Kimberly-Clark
- “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah Winfrey
- “To make a difference in people’s lives through expert advice, personal empowerment, and compassion.” – Dr. Randall S. Hansen (career expert and coach)
While not all of these necessarily hit on all the key topics above, you can see a common theme of inspiration in each of them. You may also notice that it is not necessarily obvious who these missions belong to – did anyone guess that Oprah’s mission was to “teach”?
So now is my chance to try to inspire you a bit. Keep in mind that there is not just a single way to create a mission statement and whatever you come up with will help you at the very least to think about what is important to you and what strengths you have. Let’s take a look at the different approaches others have taken and see if we get inspired by any of them:
Entrepreneur.com has an article that gives direction for building a mission statement. This is more company focused than individual, but can give some good ideas. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/65230 (Links to an external site.)
Steven Covey (from the 7 habits of highly effective people) has a bit more of a “feel good” approach and is just a part of his overall philosophy for how to manage your life. I like how he says to “start with the end in mind” when building a mission. https://www.stephencovey.com/sample-mission-statements.php (Links to an external site.)
Here are some examples of mission statements from different organizations. These are all not great examples but many some of them may inspire you: http://yourbrandvox.com/blog/2014/5/12/business-mission-statement-examples (Links to an external site.)
Any finally, here is a fun video that gives some good advice on how to write a mission statement that……isn’t bad. How to Write a Mission Statement That Doesn’t Suck (Links to an external site.)
Here is an example of my mission statement:
To inspire individuals and companies to reach their potential through expertise and experience in business practices, consumer behavior and technology.
While I do not claim that this is perfect, please note that is contains the “what” (I inspire), the “why” (to help individuals and companies reach their potential), the “how” (with my expertise and experience…..) and the “who” (for individuals and companies).
- Please upload your personal mission statement on a Word document. The file should contain nothing but your personal mission statement – do not include your name or any personal information on the actual Word document.
- You will be graded not based on the topic of your mission but on whether you incorporate the “what”, the “why” and “how”, as well as the “who” components into your statement. Feel free to read my mission statement as an example.