“Be a mission with a company, not a company with a mission.”
Early this year, I stumbled over this quote and it gave me pause. As in, a loooong pause, not just a blink’s worth. What exactly did this mean?
First, it’s easy to see how, for some, the word “mission” can be touchy. I rarely use the word “mission,” as it can sometimes seem like something lofty and out of reach. I prefer the word purpose instead; it more accurately describes the hopes & dreams I have for creating positive change through my work. And I doubt I’ll ever think of myself as a “company.”
But that nitpicking aside, I feel as though my mind has been ratcheted open a little bit more by this new idea.
Here’s the thing: For many years I’ve thought of my livelihood like this: My business does more than just pay the bills. It has a purpose.
What I now see, though, is that I’ve had that backward. I carry around a strong sense of purpose all the time. There’s an outcome I want for my life. This feeling is a permanent fixture, a big part of what makes me the person I am. And my business is just one of many actions I take to help me serve that purpose.
Does that make sense?
There’s a reason why we do what we do. There’s something good we want to bring to the world with our life and work. That’s our purpose…it resides within us. Our business—the income-earning part of life—is just one of many possible tools & activities that help us fulfill that purpose, that mission.
In my case, one of my life’s purposes is to help as many people as possible become self-sufficient and free to do the work they’re called to do WHILE earning a living. It just lights me up to be able to show that we can build a livelihood that draws upon our own gifts and inspiration, not just serving someone else’s aspirations of success and profit from a gray cubicle.
If you are, for example, a life coach of some kind, you may have chosen that work because you want to be able to look back at your life and know that you helped infuse the world with a little more peace of mind, fulfillment, health, or joy.
Your business is one way you can activate that purpose. Other ways might be how you treat the grocery store cashier, the way you raise your kids, the nature of the gifts you give, and volunteerism/charitable contributions. Bundled all together, they are what make your life whole and rich.
When you put on these lenses and take a long look at the work you do—and how you tell the world about it—what do you see?
If your business is a tool to help serve your bigger purpose, is it doing the best job it can? For example, are there other offerings you could create that would help even more people, solve even more problems? Is there more you can say, write, share, teach?
Is it clear from your marketing/promotional materials that you run your business from the heart, that there’s something you’re trying to bring more of or less of to the world? Is this part of the story of your business that you’re sharing? Could it be? (And doesn’t it make it a teensy bit easier to face the task of marketing when you look at it through this lens, even if you’re an introvert?)
Can people tell that you’re more than just the (talented) provider of a service or maker of a product? In a world becoming more impersonal and disconnected by the day, you must believe me: People love to see your depth of character, your bigger “why.”
I would love for you to show them.