What’s your personal mission statement?

October 25, 2012

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

Many organizations have mission statements and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. At their best, mission statements provide a litmus test for organizational decision making, hypothetically, even guiding the day-to-day decision making and actions of frontline employees. At their worst, they are incoherent ramblings that cover so many bases they end up being incomprehensible and unusable.

Here are few good mission statements from companies that also just happen to be very successful right now.

  • Amazon: Amazon’s vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • Apple: Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.
  • Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Arguably, for any opportunity or action these companies and their employees consider, all they need to do is ask themselves whether the action is consistent with the stated mission.

As this blog headline suggests, it is not company mission statements I want to discuss. I am here to discuss your personal mission statement. Don’t have one? Neither do I, or at least it’s not written down anywhere. However, I am big fan of the Golden Rule, and it’s hard to dispute that the Ten Commandments offer a pretty good life map. These principles are values and certainly represent the stuff of any good mission statement. Still, those values do not describe specifically how to pursue a career or conduct business.

Why do I think a personal mission statement is important? Well, as best characterized in Tom Adams’ book You are the Logo, we have reached a time when your personal brand is very closely tied to your professional success. Or, stated another way, developing and promoting your personal brand is the best way to attract and retain customers who want to do business with you.

But what would a personal mission statement look like? For me, it could be “To be recognized as one of the most trustworthy and knowledgeable authorities in the field of information destruction.” This does not reduce or conflict with my allegiance to the NAID mission statement, which is “To champion the responsible disposal of discarded sensitive information by promoting the highest ethics and standards.” In fact, it compliments NAID’s mission quite well, which is a critical factor. The other thing it does, though, is challenge me to look at what I do (and don’t do). In theory, any professional task not consistent with my personal mission statement should be challenged.

How about you? Do you have a personal mission statement? I propose we all should have one if we want to create a personal and company brand that attracts worthwhile customers.

Disclaimer: The personal mission statement concept came to me as I struggled with the focus of my own activities over the last week. I reserve the right to change it after more consideration. I’ll keep you posted.