How to get better mission alignment

Meaningful work

One of the most important benefits of being in alignment with your core self in your work is that it has real meaning for you. I believe there are four main parts to having meaningful work:

  • Mission – you and the people you work with all want the same thing
  • Environment – you enjoy being in the space and with the people at your work
  • Activity – you get to play the role you are best at in the team
  • Nature – you get to use your genius and to bring your whole self to your work

This post is about the first of those, Mission:

Aligning your mission

There’s nothing that saps your energy more than getting stuck doing work that isn’t helping you create the world you wish to live in. That makes work a meaningless slog – I remember once saying to a boss years ago that I didn’t want to spent my working life making a fat Dutchman rich (don’t worry, the “fat Dutchman” was my boss’s boss’s boss, not my boss).  On the other hand, it can be enormously energising when your work allows you to serve your ‘big why’, the core purpose for you even being in the world. When I wake up in the morning and I get to ask myself “how am I going to en-courage potential today?” that sets me up for a great day.

Who aligns with who?

It doesn’t really matter whether the mission of the organisation you are working for (or with) contributes to your purpose, or your purpose contributes to the organisation’s mission. Both work.

I ran an IT support company a few years ago. Our mission was to make it easy and affordable for entrepreneurs and freelancers to have the best tech and not worry about it breaking down. And my personal purpose in the world is to en-courage potential. Allowing talented people to just get on and deliver their special genius without having to worry about all the tech stuff served that purpose perfectly.  So the company’s mission was aligned with my purpose.

These days I spend some of my time running business planning meetings for a multi-disciplinary property tax consultancy. Their mission is to create a professional private rented sector where landlords have robust and sustainable businesses that will last beyond their lifetimes.  My purpose of encouraging people to step into their full potential allows me to serve the consultancy’s mission, by helping landlords see that they have more than just a collection of properties and tenants – they have a real business.  In this case, my purpose is aligned with the consultancy’s mission.

Know your purpose

The first step to being aligned is to understand your own purpose. If you don’t already know that, then ask yourself what changes would you like to see in the world? What upsets you or irritates you when you see it or experience it? That’s usually a good clue that you’re here to notice that, and to do something to make it better.  Or you can look for the things that bring you joy, that you’d like to see more of.  Maybe you’re here to create more of that. Whatever it is, it’s much easier to align your work with your purpose when you know what it is.

The Mission Statement

The best way to see whether your purpose either serves, or is served by, an organisation’s mission is to read their mission statement.  From that, it’s usually pretty clear whether or not there’s going to be a ‘fit’.  Just don’t attempt to ‘shoe-horn’ your purpose into theirs, or vice versa, make sure it’s a real fit.

And if there is no mission statement, then beware – you’ll find it very hard to align with something that’s not there!

In the worst-case scenario, you’ll end up working with a bunch of people all pulling in different directions – and who don’t place any value on your purpose in the world.  At best there might be a shared mission that hasn’t been articulated, but if they aren’t consciously aware of it, there’s a good chance they could drift off it as they bring new people on board.

Share your purpose

A great way to find out whether you’re going to be able to serve your purpose in your work is simply to share it with anyone you think about working with. If they think you’re weird for sharing your purpose at an interview or in a sales meeting … run away, very fast. These people are not going to support you in being who you need to be to deliver on your purpose. And it’s fine, if they think you’re weird, they’re not going to take you on anyway!

But if you share your purpose with someone who ‘gets’ it, that can lead to some fantastic conversations, ones in which your technical qualifications become almost secondary, because you both know you’re going to love working together to achieve the same aims.

You’ll have aligned your missions right from the start.

So go on, I dare you – let people know what you’re here for!

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Photo by Jordan Madrid on Unsplash

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About The Author

Andrew Horder

Founder of Joyful Genius Coaching, Andrew has been working with business owners for many years, helping them find and maintain their unique focus - those activities and opportunities that they love, and will produce their success, what Andrew calls your Joyful Genius! Andrew's first book, The A to Z of Loving Work is available from Amazon

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