This summer, I worked at a summer camp where the staff created the mission statement. It was an encouraging statement that I really wanted to be a part of because it supported the same things I support. It talked about creating an accepting environment where girls could be empowered to take charge of their development. It was posted everywhere in the camp so the staff, campers, and parents could always see it and remember why we there. Toward the end of the summer, the staff even had it written on bracelets we constantly wore.
We certainly were advertising our mission statement, but were we living that mission statement? I am of the belief that for an entity to claim it has succeeded in its mission, it must actively live that mission. In the case of my workplace, there were definitely those who were upholding and employing the mission statement through their actions. Then there were those who supported it in words, but failed through their actions.
We were charged to create an accepting environment, but we placed so many restrictions on what the girls could and could not discuss out of fear of offending someone. To me, an accepting environment is one where multiple viewpoints are encouraged and respected as being the viewpoint of that individual. Did we succeed in this part of our mission statement? Not in my opinion. We were charged to empower the girls, but we were constraining the ways in which the girls could express themselves. Is this a truly empowered situation? Could we hope that the girls would learn and grow through restrictions? I think not.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I do think setting boundaries is important, but when you set restrictions instead it creates a very small bubble around the situation. It is not easy to grow in a small area. At the end of the summer, I honestly felt that we had failed every girl who came by offering them a lofty mission statement and a small space to fulfill their part in that mission statement.
I guess my point here is that as you are writing a mission statement, whether it be for yourself or your company, you need to think about the people who will be intereacting with your mission and how your beliefs and actions will work with or against that mission in your pursuit of it. It’s not unusual for a candidate or a potential employer or a customer to look for your mission statement. Make sure it accurately reflects who you or your company are, or risk failing yourself, your company, and your customers