Everything you do starts with “why”.
Well, at least it should.
Why did you go into business? Why do you love solving the problems your clients have? Why do you work everyday to help your community thrive?
Knowing your “why” is how you can move forward in executing your mission and bringing your vision to life.
So, what is a mission and vision anyways?
Your mission is what you do everyday to achieve your vision. Your vision is what you aspire to be or achieve based on your beliefs. Ultimately, you use your mission to arrive at your vision.
To become a true, confident leader, you need to articulate your mission and vision in an accessible manner so stakeholders can easily relate to why you do what you do, as well as how you do it.
Some questions you can ask yourself to clarify your vision and mission can include:
- Where am I going?
- What does that destination look like?
- What does it feel like?
- What will it do for my community?
Honestly, these questions can be quite challenging to answer when you’re first starting out. It can even be a little hard to navigate a few years into your business.
Things change. You narrow in on a select few products or services. You specify and niche your target audience.
If you’re still trying to figure it all out, that is totally okay.
My vision became clearer as my business progressed. As I’ve grown, I’ve been able to take more intentional pauses to reflect on what I want to build with my business, and how my work continues to lay the foundation of that vision everyday.
That’s why I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and his TedTalk on how great leaders inspire action with the power of why. In the session, he dives into Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech and talks about why people connected to it. Think about it, he didn’t say “I have a plan”, he said “I have a dream” and he went on to describe that dream. That dream, his vision, is what inspired people to support him because they could see that vision as well! He knew there would be shifts and challenges along the way, but it was the vision, not the plan, that inspired a civil rights movement.
Think about the depth of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, yet how simply he was able to craft the details of what that dream looked like and communicate it to his community so it could be brought to life.
To help you get started in molding your vision, let’s dive into the steps for clarifying your mission and vision, and how to effectively communicate them to your community.
Clarifying your mission and vision
Simplicity is the key to sharing a big vision.
As I look out into the future I want to create, I’ve been able to clarify my mission and vision:
My mission is to support local Seattle business owners and nonprofit leaders in achieving growth through digital marketing.
My vision is to leverage my skills to increase the revenue and impact of Seattle businesses and nonprofits who are creating an abundant, local economy where our diverse communities thrive.
To break it down even further, think of your business as a journey to building the world you want to live in.
Your mission is where you are now. Your vision is where you want to go. Your strategy is how you’ll get there, and your core values are your guides.
By identifying your why, you can start to carve out the path to your destination.
Maybe you’re all about the power of the process, simplifying complex and challenge needs into seamless experiences. Maybe you’re all about intention, putting in the extra effort to make sure your clients are heard by using the power of active listening and adding more creative steps that help your clients thrive.
Writing your vision and mission statements
Now that you’re beginning to clarify your beautiful, grand vision, and how you’re accomplishing it everyday, let’s break it down into powerful statements that your audience can easily absorb.
Try these three activities:
1. Write a list of adjectives, verbs and phrases that describe what you do everyday and what you aspire to build.
This list can be as long as you need it to be. The goal is to get your creativity flowing.
2. Share your list with your team during a fun, creative Zoom session to see what sticks.
During your session, read out your list or share it with your team on screen. Allow each participant to share what words and phrases stand out for them. This is a great opportunity to gain a new perspective on what your team thinks about your organization’s long-term vision and how they play a role in accomplishing it.
If you’re a team of one, skip on over to suggestion number three.
3. Narrow down your list and present the final three options to your team and/or larger community for a final decision.
The reason it’s so important to include your community, even your ideal clients, is so you can write a statement that is truly authentic to what you do and how it impacts those you serve.
Remember: the goal is to make your statements powerful, succinct, and memorable for your audience. Including them in the process is an opportunity to truly understand if what you’re working towards is being accurately communicated.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, simplify and start with just one statement. Many brands have only one statement that encompasses the work they do to accomplish their specific goal. Honestly, a one-liner can be just as powerful as two.
For example, I love these mission statements from 3 very influential organizations:
- Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
- Patagonia: “We’re in business to save our home planet”.
- Disney: “To make people happy”.
I also love these two mission statements from two of my clients:
- YETI (Youth Experiential Training Institute): “Developing grit in all youth through challenging outdoor adventure.”
- Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance: “Striving for a world in which lobular breast cancer is found early, treated effectively, and eradicated permanently.”
Ready to start piecing together your vision and mission?
If you can’t tell, I love to break down the complexities of running a business to make every step enjoyable, accessible, and creative.
To support you in clarifying your vision and mission, and sharing it with the world, let’s get you focused on what you do, who you serve, and your why by crafting an initial “I help” statement.