Vision, Mission, Values: It's Business and It's Personal

As the years go by, I have more conversations about vision, mission, and core values statements (VMV).

I get asked about the nuanced differences between vision and mission, how detailed the statements should be, how to live out core values, whether they should be short phrases or full sentences, and much more. Conversely, when I hear about challenges that companies are facing, I ask their founders and leaders if they have crafted these statements, whether they can rattle them off, how they use them with their people, and whether they actually believe in them.

Ultimately, I try to share my experiences in learning and observing that these statements serve a vital purpose, and often use metaphors to articulate that vitality: the foundation for a strong building, the soul of an living organism, and my current favorite, the guiding lights for a company's team (we're using that in the title for our annual VMV workshopon January 11; check it out if you're interested in joining us in-person or online).

What doesn't get talked about enough, however, is the interplay between a company's VMV and an individual's, especially that of the founders. This came to the forefront of my mind last year when I re-read a classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, in which Stephen Covey discusses the importance of developing a personal mission statement.

In addition to reading the book, I bought a companion workbook in which there is a lengthy exercise to write a personal mission statement. And because I am deeply entrenched in all these conversations about VMV, I found myself integrating my personal vision and values into the workbook exercise.

When I was done with it, I wasn't surprised to discover that my personal VMV was quite aligned with our company's VMV. The words, structure, and tone are different yet the two sets of statements are complementary to one another.

What I learned from this experience were three lessons, in increasing order of importance:

  1. That my life and work are highly integrated with one another.

  2. The alignment of the two sets of statements helps validate the integrity of The Junto Institute's VMV since I am its primary founder.

  3. That I feel greater confidence, optimism, and zeal to be an effective leader of the company for many years to come.

In other words, I have more clarity that the foundation, soul, and guiding lights for The Junto Institute are tightly woven with my own. That's a pretty cool place to be, and one that I wish for all founders and leaders.