Vision And Mission: The Difference
Time to end the confusion
The more people talk about their Vision and Mission, the more it seems obvious there is confusion about what role it plays in their life. It affects not only their personal but professional lives. Many treat it as an elementary task and try to complete it, or worse, dismiss it to jump into the exciting parts of building their desires. The trouble is, many either do not have the grips of the two or have managed to muster them quickly as a check box exercise.
Vision is especially pivotal to you as a person and everything you do around you. It directs the decisions and choices you make personally and professionally.
The problem? People have two moving targets
Think of the Vision as a dartboard and the Mission as a dart. When we have both pieces, we give ourselves better chances to hit the target. Many are throwing darts without the board; what are they aiming towards? How have they established which darts to pick up?
The Vision is constant, and the Mission is ever-changing to reflect the time, trend, choices, and consumers' demands. If both were moving targets, how'd we ever be able to hit them? The challenge is firstly to hit one; however, if we have two constantly changing targets, we'd never remain focused enough to see ourselves through.
Here's how you ought to see them.
I want you to understand Vision as something you are not just able to see but able to feel. To be able to live through mind, body and soul, the reality you will create. Vision among the noise today is commonly referred to as the "world you are trying to create". As accurate as this is, it's more the mental shifts you make in people, which can be adopted through products, transformations, or even environmental changes. Shifting the world others live in is the mental model you are trying to influence.
Your Vision is something you cannot attain. Yup, you read that. That's why they call it a North Star; when in doubt, check that you are on the right path. Are you making the right choices? Do your actions bring you closer to the target?
Here's an example:
Take Oxfam, a charity that has a compelling Vision:
A just world without poverty
Let me ask you.
Do you believe that we could ever live in a world without poverty? Take a moment to think about this. Poverty can be housed in many aspects, but to be genuinely free from it would take constant and consistent action. This is an excellent example of how the company and its people can continue to strive well beyond its life line.
When we don't have suitable filters or, for many people, no filters, how do we know we're not headed in the wrong direction? Doing for the sake of doing, well, life becomes meaningless.
We can further dive deeper into Vision in another article; for now, know this, you only have one true Vision. Everything, including your business, must mould around it.
When you know where you are trying to go, you can form a Mission, your target, the waypoint, or whatever you want to call it. Our Commitment, a word I replace with Mission, is what we gear around to get us closer to the infinite Vision; it's the primary goalpost that directs us.
Your Commitment typically should range between 5-10 years; anything longer means the target is too aspirational when it needs to be attainable. Achieving multiple missions over time is acceptable, given that as times change, so does our focus.
As an example, if you searched for Microsoft's Mission statement when Bill Gates was around, here's what the focus was:
A computer on every desk.
As aspirational as that was during those times, they did just that over the years. Ambitious for sure; however, what happened when they did? Amid that Mission, Apple was brewing behind the scenes with something more meaningful. Apple stood for something beyond computers and productivity; many have since transitioned over. Today they have a very different mission; however, I believe the damage is already done.
Keep your Commitments short, triggered, and adaptive. Take a pulse check on it frequently. Make sure you are heading down the right path for the right reasons.
Think about this:
If the Mission was to send the man to the moon...
The Vision undoubtedly would be to explore the universe.
Now, think through these two terms and how they play a role in your life. You only have one vision; explore it. What does that look like for you? Then look at what you are committed to in the next five years to bring you closer to that vision. Creating that mission now gives you the target; work on your goals now that reflect that mission.