Friday, February 22, 2013

What is a Mission Statement?

A recent post on a Christian women-in-business facebook page asked members to share their mission statement. I’ve considered this before in various organizations and also thought about what I want to achieve in my business, but I have never written a formal mission statement for myself. 

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has not one but six possible meanings for the word mission. It could be “a particular task or goal assigned to a person or group, a journey with purpose,” or even a person’s work or vocation. Other meanings included “military or scientific expedition for a particular outcome,” such as any of the relief operations that help people in need. Such a declaration might also be called a statement of belief.

Mission statements are often posted on an organization’s website, and a church’s mission statement will be different than that of a corporate company that provides services or works for public good. 

While a mission is still an activity sponsored by a church in a Third World country or closer to home, it’s often an act to alleviate some challenge in the life of people  in that community, such as feeding the hungry or a social justice movement.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, for example, calls its statement an ethical code. It reads: “Food Banks Canada, its members … believe that everyone in Canada has the right to physical and economic access, at all times, to sufficient, safe, nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences.” This statement, along with the organization's action plan, helps the Food Bank focus on the purpose and help those who come for assistance.

The Word Guildthe Canadian association that hosts this bloghas a vision and a mission statement. Their vision: To positively influence individuals—and ultimately the Canadian culture—through life-changing words that bring God`s message of hope.  

To accomplish this vision, their mission statement is to strengthen the "Canadian Christian writing and publishing community" and to encourage "excellence in writing" so that it might impact "Canadian culture through the words of writers, editors and speakers with a Christian worldview." To that end, the organization offers learning opportunities so that writers have the tools to make that happen.

I could list other organizational missions, but I`d like to focus on individual missions. Mother Teresa, in her lifetime, began a mission to be attentive to the poor and dying in Calcutta, India, but she couldn't do it alone. She gathered others from her order to help make it happen, and she did it quite successfully, inspiring people around the world with her example.

Going back to the women in business forum, I can now answer the question with greater clarity. The statement could be short and concise, as befits an editor, or a slightly longer one. It's about my underlying beliefs and how I go about my work as an editor, instructor, writer and speaker.  

Somewhat similar to the beam of a lighthouse that helps sailors past treacherous shoals, such a statement guides  me as I work with others and helps me stay focused. Thus part of my guiding principles would be to help the writer be the best that he or she can be.

What is your mission statement?

Carolyn Wilker, editor, writing instructor and speaker

Author of Once Upon a Sandbox 



Peter Black said...

Carolyn, thank you for this informative and instructional post, and the question posed in your conclusion.

I've adopted the concept that, in writing from a Christian worldview I seek to raise the reader's gaze from the material and temporal to the spiritual and eternal. Occasionally I use either expanded or contracted versions of the statement.
Basically, either of the following short versions helps remind me of what I'm about:
~ "Writing to raise the gaze."
~ "Raise the gaze."

Carolyn Wilker said...

And that's the reason for your blog title. Well expressed.

I thought that readers might consider a mission statement, even if they don't post it. Thanks for your thoughtful and engaging comments, as always.

Donna Mann said...

Well done, Carolyn. This is a good read at any time of our writing life.

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