What do you do? The Power of Mission Thinking in Your Life and Work

I love reading and learning about mission statements from different organizations. While the how and what are interesting, the compelling why behind organizations and people continues to be the most exciting part for me. Simon Sinek’s viral video in 2009 certainly helped conjure more attention to this subject, when he pointed out that some of the best organizations in the world follow the rule of the Golden Circle, having the “why” in the center of that circle.

Sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, I noticed a young woman at the counter. Reading the phrase on the back of her shirt I tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she let me take a picture of her back. Of course, it didn’t take long to recognize the awkwardness of such my word choice, so I quickly explained that I liked the wording / statement on her shirt. She was gracious, pulled her hair up, and I snapped a quick picture with my phone.

walgreensmission

What was so interesting as to prompt this odd request? It was the partial wording of the Walgreens mission statement, revised to start with the phrase, “Every day I…” It put the words of the mission statement into a first person declaration of how this mission is given life in the organization; through the daily words, thoughts, actions and attitudes of each person who works at Walgreens. Every day she “helps people get, stay and live well.” If you truly believe in that mission and accept the fact that this is indeed what drives the work of the organization, then this is the sort of thing that infuses even the most mundane activities with meaning. What do you do? The “what” and “how” might be focused on stocking shelves, sweeping the floor, delivering prescriptions to patients, working the photography counter, or checking people out. Behind each of those activities, however, is an organizational mission to help people get, stay and live well. Granted that one truly believes in the mission and the organization’s commitment to it, that imbues each of those tasks with power and significance, potentially even expressing what people from my faith tribe refer to as the doctrine of vocation, love of one’s neighbor through even the simplest or most mundane of tasks.

I continue to believe that mission thinking is a potent part of organizational culture and daily living.   Consider making your own metaphorical or real t-shirt that starts with, “Every day I…” Own it.

  • What do you do every day? Take a moment and write your personal mission, starting with the phrase, “Every day I…”
  • Now take a moment to learn or review the mission statement of the organizations and communities of which you are a part (work, church, volunteer organizations, etc.). Try creating a revised version of each of those statements doing the same thing. “Every day I…”
  • Do you believe these statements?
  • If so, how does this inform your thoughts, words, actions and attitudes?
  • If not, do you want to stay a part of a community or organization with a mission that you do not value or support?
  • How does this activity change or support your perspective on your life and work?
  • What would happen if everyone in your community or organization reminded themselves daily of their “Every day I…” version of the mission? How might it change, amplify or minimize certain thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes? What would change? what would stay the same?
Posted in blog, mission statements, organizational culture

About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is an author, host of the MoonshotEdu Show, professor of education, AVP of Academics, and Chief Innovation officer. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, The Pedagogy of Faith (editor), and Adventures in Self-Directed Learning. He is passionate about futures in education, educational innovation, alternative education, and nurturing agency and curiosity.