“Are you a meaningful specific or a wandering generality?” – Zig Ziglar
We as human beings are wired to think and choose how we will conduct ourselves in leading our life. We can make our own decisions regardless of the conditions we find ourselves. We can make choices based on what we want, what we need, or how we feel. In essence, you and I are responsible for the direction of our own lives.
The Importance of Writing a Personal Mission Statement
I remember when writing personal mission statements were the topic of numerous books and articles, individuals and companies alike were writing them, some followed them, others ignored them. The importance of such a statement is clear in the light of Zig Ziglar’s question of living a meaningful or aimless life.
Many people never take time to seriously consider their life’s purpose, the need to set priorities or establish worthy goals. I cannot imagine living without knowing where I want to be in five or ten years, especially since I alone am responsible for where I’ll be.
Rhett Power (contributor to INC.com) suggests four reasons to have a personal mission statement saying,
1. It integrates who you are.
2. Provides focus.
3. Simplifies any decision-making processes.
4. Holds you accountable for your decisions and actions.
Writing a personal mission statement is an act of self-discovery that can help us uncover things that we previously may not have otherwise known. Personal mission statements allow us to get to know ourselves better and discover our sense of purpose in life.” (1)
The Importance of Writing a Company Mission Statement
If writing a good personal mission statement helps determine the direction your life will go in, can it be any less important for your organization to have one? I believe experienced leaders utilize mission statements to plan, direct, and rally their teams around why their organization exists.
Your company’s mission statement serves to focus on and clarify why your organization makes the choices it does. Your company’s mission statement is its declaration of purpose. Your teams should be aligning all their plans and decisions with their mission statement in mind.
“It’s not hard to make a decision once you know what your values are” – Roy E. Disney
When writing a mission statement, highly successful organizations include their non-negotiable values, which makes their company stand apart from all others. Their values guide their executive decisions as well as that of their employees.
Your company’s “why” (mission statement) should inform your prospective customers/clients of your values, intentions, and direction. If this all sounds simple, it’s because it is, yet, it takes discipline to stay the course in difficult times.
One Highly Successful Company with a Simple Mission Statement
In 1962 Sam Walton on a mission with a specific vision started Wal-Mart with a simple purpose. Walmart’s mission statement couldn’t be any simpler; it states, “to help people save money so they could live better.” Sam Walton and Wal-Mart never compromised their mission statement’s values.
How has Wal-Mart’s holding to their simple mission statement rewarded them? Wal-Mart has made the list of Fortune 500 Companies an astounding 24 times and ranked 1st 14 times as well as placing 1st six consecutive years since 2013.
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the world employing 2.2 million employees (1.5 million in the U.S.), and their long-term success comes from their unwillingness to compromise on their core values and their laser-like focus on making decisions that fulfill their purpose. Wal-Mart always has a handle on what they’re doing and where they’re going.
A Simple Mission Statement Provides Stability and Sustained Focus
Patrick Hull (contributor to Forbes) says, “don’t underestimate the importance of a mission statement. Every entrepreneur should write a mission statement early on because they provide you and your employees with the framework and purpose.”
“If you don’t have one, you need to get one. Here are four essential questions your company’s mission statement must answer:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- Who do we do it for?
- What value are we bringing?
If you have a mission statement, make sure it can answer these questions. It makes all the difference.” (2)