As a kid, I loved the TV series Mission Impossible. Each episode opened with:
- the lighting of a fuse
- the fuse burning across the screen
- unforgettable mood music – – dum dum da da dum dum da da dum dum
- lead agent, Jim Phelps, finding a hidden tape recorder with the mission
- the greeting = “Good morning, Jim”
- the ask = “Your mission should you choose to accept it…”
- the qualifier = the secretary would deny any knowledge of actions of “compromised” agents
- the ending = “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds”
Writing a mission or mission statement can feel almost as daunting. Yet, a mission statement rarely results in abduction, loss of life, or self-destruction.
What’s the issue, then?
The most common reasons I hear from my clients are (cue music: dum dum da da dum dum da da dum dum ):
- I don’t know what to write.
- I can’t figure out how to get started.
- It seems so final.
- Why do I need one?
- It’s a waste of time
- What would I use it for?
- What if priorities change? It’s too confining.
- Is this another New Year’s resolution I won’t stick to?
To tackle these questions, let’s think about what a mission statement really does. It depicts the path or road you will take to reach your destination. It says, “if my goal is to get there, here is the way I’ll get there”. Or better yet, “here is the first way that I will try to get there.”
It’s much like taking a road trip. You need to know the destination, determine all the possible roads to get there, and then choose the best one. Once known, this new path becomes the mission, i.e., the road to get you there.
As with any trip, obstacles and unforeseen events can happen. These range from simple bumps in the road and construction scenes to major potholes and detours. Because of this, minimizing the impact is key to your mission. To do so, you must know your destination and understand the options and elements to keep you on course.
When considering the mission, many factors can move you off course.
- Unplanned Events – birth, death, illness, injury, change in job status, or various natural disasters
- Change in Expectations – timeline changes, not delivering on commitments (you or others), lack of direction, or outside influences
Bottom line: a mission keeps you moving forward. It prevents idle time, indecision, and self-doubt. It guides you to recovery after challenges arise.
Without a vision or destination, you run the risk of taking any convenient road.
As the Cheshire Cat states, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.” (Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)
Writing a mission statement provides a foundation for decisions. It clarifies and solidifies the path forward. It enables quicker course corrections and recovery from unplanned events or outcomes. Further, it is dynamic. Periodic review, modification, and rests maintain alignment and ensure relevance.
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