“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.” –Richard Bach
As the popular film Jerry Maguire opens, the title character is wrestling with issues that make him question who he has become. These issues offend his values. In these opening scenes, sports agent Maguire goes so far as to say he hates himself – and then corrects himself to say he hates his place in the world. So, he writes what he calls a Mission Statement, “a suggestion for the future of our company.” Among the values in the Mission Statement are the “simple pleasures,” “protecting clients in health and injury,” “caring,” and being “me I always wanted to be.” He recalls his mentor, Dickie Fox, who said sports agentry is all about personal relationships.
Above all, the Mission Statement inspires him to say: “I’d started my life.” As the film progresses and the Mission Statement turns out not to be well-received by his company, we realize that what Maguire has written is a Personal Mission Statement for his own life rather than for his company – a suggestion for the future of his own life.
A Mission is a self-imposed duty. A Mission Statement injects a sense of purpose into your daily activities. It provides a long-term sense of direction for your practice. It answers the questions: Who are we? What do we do? Where are we headed?
I know firsthand what an arduous process writing a Mission Statement can be. Steven Covey recently admitted that it took his family eight months to complete theirs. Corporations hold costly retreats and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to help them with the process. However, once you develop your Mission Statement, one that is broad enough to cover your interests and activities in and outside of your practice, your life will begin to shift dramatically. Your decision-making will come more easily because you will have something against which to measure your activities. Your Mission Statement will help you make the decisions for your professional and personal life.
Your Mission Statement is both a harness and a sword. It harnesses you to what is in alignment with your purpose while it helps you cut away everything that distracts you from your purpose. Your Mission Statement helps prevent you from moving in too many directions at the same time. It keeps you from becoming so confused about your practice’s direction that you don’t take effective actions to move in any direction. A Mission Statement helps you chart your practice’s future by acknowledging where you are now, where you want to go, and the time it will take to get there.