Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mission statements: not just for business any more • 2/365 •

I'm on a mission. I'm saving the world. What's your mission? You don't have to be a corporation to have a mission statement, you have a brand of your very own and it deserves direction. In fact, you ARE your brand. 

We generally associate mission statements with business plans, they act as corporate compasses. My Mac dictionary defines a "mission statement" like this:

mis•sion state•ment  - noun
a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.

Wikipedia says that a mission statement usually contains the following:
  • Purpose and aim of the organization
  • The organization's primary stakeholders: clients, stockholders, congregation, etc.
  • Responsibilities of the organization toward these stakeholders
  • Products and services offered
For example, Wal-Mart's mission statement is:  "Our mission is to enhance and integrate our supplier diversity programs into all of our procurement practices and to be an advocate for minority- and women-owned businesses."
Practical, but dry. I say we need to get more personal. I say that everyone should have their own personal mission statement to help guide them through their endeavors. Purpose in life. That might sound spiritual or lofty, but the origin of the term "mission statement" comes from Christian religious groups. Yes, missionaries. I offer this: we are all missionaries. Some of us haven't been given clear direction or we doubt our personal power, but we are each on a mission. If you look deep inside, it's there, you know what it is because it's been nagging at you for your entire life. So own it. Be it. Give yourself a mission statement and let it guide everything you do. It will help in business, too. Consider these successful corporations' mission statements:

Starbucks: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Nike: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world
* If you have a body, you are an athlete."

Google: Don't be evil.  To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Amazon:  Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Coca Cola:  To refresh the world... To inspire moments of optimism and happiness... To create value and make a difference.
eBay:  "eBay's mission is to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything."
Disney: "We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere."
What these have in common is a "higher purpose" that precedes the means of accomplishing it. So for a few moments, don't think about work. Don't think about what you do for a living or what you would like to do for a living. Just think about what your purpose in life is, even if you don't know how to accomplish it yet. Write yourself a mission statement. Then, you can apply it to whatever you do professionally.

My personal mission statement: "Saving the world, one _________ at a time."

My company, Little Black Mask Marketing's mission statement: To save the world by promoting entities and individuals who make a positive impact.

Write it. Live it. Don't judge yourself if you aren't living it 100%, just let it guide your choices. Live with passion. Or, as Joseph Campbell said:

Follow your bliss and doors will open for you where there were no doors before.


  1. Thanks Jessi. You've spurred me onto a mission now ... to find my mission statement! What an excellent way to start the year. On the second day, rather than the first - and maybe I won't even get to it until tomorrow.

    I liked Google's most, I think. Telling you what it doesn't want to be first.

    Very insightful, Ms Miller, nicely done!

  2. Looking forward to hearing your personal mission statement, Cath!