Mission vs. Vision Statement

imagesRecently, I received a comment on this blog. It was the following question….

“I would like to find out if the mission statement should be phrased in the present? I ask because Napoleon Hill phrased it in the future. He said “I will have” not “I have.”

This question was regarding a post of mine entitled “Define Your Mission”. I recently completed reading “Think and Grow Rich” again and pondered this very question myself.

Here is what I think….

Let me first start off by saying the term “Mission Statement” can mean many things. Ultimately I would side with whatever Napoleon Hill has to say on the matter as he is far more proven than I.

With that said I believe there is a far more effective way to employ Napoleon Hills “Mission Statement.”

I went through the process Napoleon Hill describes in his book. I created my mission and my plan. While Napoleon Hill calls this a “Mission Statement;” I would argue it is more of a “Vision Statement.”

A Mission Statement is a brief statement of basically why you or your company is in existence. Mine is simply “To translate what gives me joy, fulfillment, and makes me genuinely happy, into a career that can give me flexibility in my life and money to support my family.” That is my soul purpose in life; my means to an end.

If you look at any business or corporation you will see the same pattern; a simple statement of the purpose that business serves in society.

So I would argue that a mission statement is the Present; the here and now. Every decision I make, I consult that mission to make sure it is supporting that mission. If something I am considering doing something that conflicts with that mission, it is not worth the time.

In “Think and Grow Rich” Napoleon asks you to be specific in amounts, timeframes, and actions. The traditional Mission Statement is not the place to do that.

The Mission should serve as a guide to all decisions. It is best to make this as simple and strait forward as possible to avoid any conflicts in future decision making. While the Mission Statement is an important first step to anyone wishing to fulfill their goals and purposes, it is not the be all end all. As Napoleon Hill explains we first need that all consuming idea or desire; then we need to back that up with a definite plan and purpose. You can do this through a Vision Statement.

The Vision Statement simply paints a picture of the future. It will give details of what you or your company will be doing 5, 10, 30, years down the road. I believe this is where Napoleon Hill’s suggestions fit best. The creation of this statement can be found in his book and has been proven to work by many of the best business minds in our history. I have listed the six steps, but for more detail read “Think and Grow Rich.”

  1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.
  2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire.
  3. Establish a definite date by which you intend to possess the money you desire.
  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once — whether you are ready or not — to put this plan into action.
  5. Write out clearly and concisely all of the information in Steps 1 to 4 above.
  6. Read your statement aloud twice daily and, as you read, see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

So to answer this question I would say the Mission Statement is something that should be phrased in the Present. This will serve as your guide in all your decisions. If a decision conflicts with your mission it is probably not worth pursuing. The Vision Statement will serve as the specific counterpart to your mission and what you are trying to accomplish. I believe they go hand in hand. You will also not want to forget to make a plan. I would argue this is a third distinct part of the process. Without a plan to achieve you goals there is very little chance of arriving on time and in the right destination.

When you put all three of these distinct parts together you form the framework of Napoleon Hill’s basic concept. It is also a little easier to follow and see through.

This is all just my opinion….what do you think?


About Chris J. Gaddis, MBA

I am a Financial Representative and have been in the industry over 10 years. I am self employed and work with several Allstate agencies in NC & SC. I also run Gaddis Coaching which was created to help individuals and businesses realize their dreams.
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