I do a lot of planning for my PR clients, and at the top of the many-page PR Plan is the company’s mission statement. It’s the first thing we look at because it should be the bright light in the fog, the north star in the dark night.

Not every business looks at a mission statement this way. Frankly, I wrote a vision of greatness years ago, before my business was really much of anything, but I didn’t think to venture into mission land.

The word itself has fascinating meaning:

  1. an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.
  2. the vocation or calling of a religious organization, esp. a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith.
    Well isn’t that just fascinating! I’m on a mission…it’s like we have an agenda, an intent, a huge passion for carrying out whatever this mission thing is.
    Certainly not how most people look at business.
    In his brilliant first book, Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, the first of a three-part series, Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig describes a mission statement as a business’ north star. It answers the following questions, says Ari:

* What do we do?

* Why do we do it?

* Who are we that are doing it?

* Who are we doing it for?

The mission statement, he emphasizes, is “always there to give us a sense of direction.” I mean, why the heck do we do anything, really?

If we don’t understand the why, how can we really do a good job with the what?

I’ve learned that I cannot do public relations for a company unless they have a clear sense of their vision and mission. And so with many clients, we start the PR planning only to double back and do a bit of business planning and a lot of business development.

The best thing we can do in life is strive to make a difference doing what we do best. Following our path, our calling, and doing so in a way that contributes to the greater good.

It’s not just about the money. Frankly, it’s never really about the money. Most business qualms come down to personal insecurities, personal lack, personal fulfillment.

Take that out of the equation and step back. Look at the landscape and see where only you can make improvements. And then get to work. There is no time to waste.

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