Why a Personal Mission Statement Matters

Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Notice how it says nothing about electric cars, trucks, hyper-loops or even transportation.

It is massive, global and inspiring.

We expect our companies to have inspiring mission statements.  Leadership teams can spend days crafting the perfect mission statement that will inspire and last for decades.  It is viewed as a lighthouse that will serve as a beacon for future talent summoning them to the shores of our great organization.

But how many of us have a personal mission statement and why does having a personal mission statement even matter?

Often times stress and nonfulfillment in our work can stem from a discrepancy between what we believe we are put on this earth to accomplish and the companies we serve.  If we don’t intrinsically believe in the company’s mission and, therefore our goals don’t align, then that friction will cause strain and result in a deep feeling of a lack of fulfillment.  We might feel this intrinsically, but reflecting on what we want out of our career is critical to self-fulfillment. 

Secondly, we are taught to memorize our elevator pitch for when asked what we do for a living.  But what we do rarely provokes the desire for someone else to assist.  “I’m a project manager” or “I sell software” solicits no emotional investment in the recipient. It reminds me of a story:

Three men are in the construction industry do the exact same job.  A passerby walks up to the first man and says, “What are you doing?” and the first man responds, “I am laying bricks”. The passerby walks up to the second man and repeats his question, “What are you doing?” and the second man responds, “I am building a wall”.  The passerby walks up to the third man and asks, “What are you doing?” and the third man eagerly responds, “I am building a castle”.

Each man does the same job but the third man is inspiring and his purpose if not based on the today but on the future creation of something awesom.  Which of these three men would you be inclined to help?

Spend a few minutes today in quiet reflection and define your personal mission statement. Try to define it as inspirational and legacy based.  And next time you are asked what you do for a living, answer the question with your mission statement.  You might just be surprised who is willing to help you achieve the building of your castle.