‘Mission’, ‘Purpose’, ‘Vision’. If you fake it, you will fail.

Mission statement, vision, purpose. Whatever you want to call it, here’s how you know if you’re truly living it. 

This post from Fergus Smith on LinkedIn got me thinking about how business owners can truly figure out if they are living the mission so many so desperately want to be recognised for in their businesses. If you ever wanted a case study for the power of having a mission, a reason, a focus when trying to achieve something, here it is. 

(And note, that’s not a mission statement, reasoning or a focus group. It’s straight down the line clarity. This is what we’re going to do. Let’s just get on with it, adapt to what we find along the way and get the task completed because we’re doing something bigger than ourselves.)

More than just platitudes. 

There’s something here about missions – purpose. Not just the words we say and the tick box. But about how people will behave if they really understand why they are being asked to do something and when they believe in it as a goal. Culture, results… progress, all follow because of this.

A lot of the businesses and founders I work with – especially those moving from start up to scale up – spend a huge amount of time trying to craft their perfect mission, vision or purpose. And of course, defining how you want your business to be perceived by the outside world, how you want it to show up in you teams’ actions and the eventual outputs is something worthy of a lot of thought. 

But the truth is that no amount of good intention can realise a mission statement, a vision or a company purpose. Too many businesses don’t have a real mission, and if they do it is either woolly, hidden, platitudes or implausible. And almost never at the centre of their operation. If you don’t have a real mission/purpose, then people will struggle to be purposeful in your company. 

Here’s how to know if you’re truly living your mission: 

  • You talk about it all the time. 
  • You refer to it in appraisals
  • You make it central in leadership team meetings
  • You knit it through your growth planning 

Put plainly, if you’re not connected to your mission… then it’s BS. 

You must believe your mission counts. It doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but you must believe in it, and talk about it – All. The. Time. 

“I can’t lead my mission”

Lots of leaders and founders have the desire to create a mission in their business, but some struggle to bring others along for the ride. 

If you recognise yourself here, then there are two ways to tackle it;

  1. Bring someone in to help you lead your mission. Someone who truly ‘gets it’ and has the know how to communicate it brilliantly and the skills to encourage and inspire others of its importance.
  2. If you’re a small business, find advocates within your team who are already on board with your mission, listen to them, give them some of your authenticity so they feel even more connected to it – they in turn will inspire others.

Fergus Smith’s Ukrainian mission is indeed a lovely example, and it is also testament to the fact that you simply cannot fake it. In the long term you will never succeed. 

Are you living your mission?

Andy. 

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