Your Mission: Stand and Deliver

Posted by Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. on 02.09.12 in College Experience, Integrity, Students

The mission of Becker College is to deliver to each student a transformational learning experience—anchored by academic excellence, social responsibility, and creative expression—that prepares graduates to thrive, contribute to, and lead in a global society.

A mission statement is indispensable; it conveys what an organization (or individual) stands for and intends to deliver. From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and one-person shops, mission statements provide the framework for communicating a clear vision and purpose inside an organization and to the public.

Think, for example, about Southwest Airlines. Colleen Barrett ’64, Southwest’s president emeritus, points to the clarity of the Southwest mission: “dedication to the highest quality of customer service, delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.” Everything Southwest does reflects that mission.

Individuals can also benefit from having a clear, purposeful mission. By making the effort to develop a personal mission statement, we discover who we want to be and what we want to accomplish and, in so doing, we gain a much deeper understanding of how to put our mission into action each day. CEO Nancy Lublin wrote in Fast Company magazine, “Write a mission statement with a goal that’s an action, not a sentiment…ponder your ambitions, and write and rewrite the thing until it reflects—in real, printable words and figures—the difference that you want to make.”

If you were to develop your own personal mission statement, what would it be?

In today’s ever-shifting climate, college students must learn how to see themselves as more than a declared major, a member of a club, or part of an athletic team.  Just as companies vigorously compete in the marketplace for success, so too can college students pave the way for future professional success by creating a mission statement. Identify your unique skills, strengths, and values—essentially, what you bring to the table in the classroom, with your friends and family, and with prospective employers.

Here are some guidelines for creating your personal mission statement.

Create a mission statement to challenge yourself. In college, many students gravitate toward what is most familiar and presents the path of least resistance. While that may help you to feel comfortable in a new environment, it is the time you spend outside of your comfort zone that will help you discover and uncover your capabilities and strengths. Remember, employers are looking for people who can take risks, adopt and adapt to new technologies, and distinguish themselves. Use your mission statement to inspire you and help you to face challenges—even when you fear failure. By flexing these muscles early on, you will learn more about yourself and be more confident in your capabilities.

Make your mission statement unique. Your mission statement needs to convey who you are in ways that help you to differentiate yourself from others. Identify your passions. Consider those things you can be counted on to deliver—a commitment to helping others, creative problem solving, mentoring others with your knowledge and experience, and so on.  Recognize your strengths, and think of ways you can use your mission statement to continue to build upon them.

Live your mission with integrity. College students must not only define who they are, but must also protect what their mission statement stands for by staying out of trouble, using social media wisely, and making decisions that will not harm them in the long run.

Remember that social media can serve as a permanent record, both for companies and for individuals. People can use social media as a tool to create positive change, such as when consumers advocate online for the recall of poor or unsafe products. But, when individuals use social media to carelessly, express whatever they think or feel, without considering the inappropriateness of such comments or how they might be perceived, they can face life-changing repercussions. High school and college students have been expelled and lost scholarships and offers from first-choice colleges, over their Tweets and inappropriate Facebook posts.

Celebrities, billionaires, politicians, and corporations can attest to the truth of Warren Buffett’s statement, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Stand and deliver. If you think, “I do not have time for this,” or “I do not need a mission statement,” think again. Your college education is not simply a means to getting a job. A college education has transformational power. So tap into it. Combine your education with a mission statement, and you will be able to achieve personal and professional success. You will evolve into a true global citizen able to contribute to the greater good. Think about what talents you have, what new things you can create that the world cannot do without, and how many people you can inspire. That is your responsibility, and your mission statement will keep you on the path to deliver on your promise.

About the Author: Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.

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2 Responses to Your Mission: Stand and Deliver

  1. Prof. Maria Calkins says:

    What a great idea, Kevin! As I was reading this piece, I was thinking about how I could incorporate this into my FYE class next semester. It is so important to emphasize this to students, who often see college solely as the means to getting a job or an opportunity to play their sport. As Dr. Johnson notes, It’s so much more!

  2. Prof. Kevin Woods says:

    Interesting and good way to get students to think about, and put in writing, why they are here and what their “mission” is.
    Prior to changes in the Advising protocols a couple of years ago, I always had my new Criminal Justice Advisee’s complete a “Mission Statement” form and hand it in. It was great to be able to refer back to it and keep students focused on their mission. Prof. Woods

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