By Kirk McCarley,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29: 18
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a standard interview question straight from the Human Resources Department manual. Though often asked, it was in my experience surprising the frequency with which the response was either void of aspiration or worse, fully lacked foresight.
“To find a job where I won’t be laid off.”
“I need to pay my bills.”
Or on occasion, “That’s a really good question, I need to think about it.”
Granted, during periods of tight employment where jobs are precious, stable positions with decent benefits are attractive to any of those who have weathered job loss. Still, whether it pertains to career, health, finances, or relationships vision and mission are essential navigational tools for success.
Vision describes a desired state. It can be for the present, but more often is a future want. Typically it is a “heart and soul” oriented inclination describing the essence of existence, especially as demonstrated by these organizations:
“To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate, and entertain.” BBC
“Helps people around the world save money and live better.” Walmart
Absent employment, financial, or compassion-oriented wishes, it is not uncommon for individuals to adopt their own personal vision.
“I imagine a future of contributing to better economic conditions for those in need.”
“I aim to one day find a life long partner with whom to share a lifetime of love to include having children and raising them to be responsible, contributing members to society.”
Do you have a vision for your life, business, or career or certain aspects of it? Is it current and applicable or does it need to be updated? After you’ve developed, revised, or reviewed your vision, you’re ready for a mission statement.
A mission narrows in on what a person or an organization endeavors to do, whether it be constructing a product, providing a service, or fulfilling a cause. Again, several well-recognized organizations have very succinct and targeted statements:
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
“We seek to be the world’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.” Amazon
Even Jesus left his disciples with a mission:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28: 19
Practically, why is a mission statement necessary?
- It determines direction.
- It focuses on the future.
- It provides a template for decision making.
- It forms the basis for alignment, especially for employees.
- It welcomes helpful change.
- It shapes strategy.
- It facilitates evaluation and improvement.
A Professional Coach can offer objective guidance to business owners, small proprietorships, or individuals looking for direction and focus. There is no better time than now, as we begin a new year, to plan and set course. Playwright Samuel Beckett described an alternative in his classic about two characters idling away in inaction.
“…Let us not waste our time in idle discourse!…Let us make the most of it before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us! What do you say?” Vladimir, “Waiting for Godot.”
Godot will come for each of us eventually. Until then, what’s your plan?