Turn your WHY into a powerful mission

10/10/2014 | Roger and Susie Engelau

If you’re like most of the CEOs I work with as a business owner coach, you want your company to give back to the community.  You didn’t get into business just to make money.  Sure, profit’s important; but you also did it to make a real difference in the world.  And you want that difference to be deep, meaningful, and lasting.

It’s not greedy to expect a benefit in return for your contributions. You have to be smart about your limited resources and besides, every relationship should be a win-win. Get the word out about your giving. Go ahead and ask them to mention you on their website and put a page on your own website.

No matter how small your business, you can give. Maybe you give cash but if that’s not possible right now, take a day to volunteer as a company, promote volunteerism and giving among your staff by giving them a paid day off. Be seen at the local community cleanup or the baseball field. Commit to your cause and be seen there repeatedly and for years.

But in order to make a true and lasting difference, you’ve got to give strategically.

All companies should nurture a core set of values that inform the mission, guide decisions, and help employees and community members connect emotionally with your company.

Most companies are good at defining WHAT they do and HOW they do it. Fewer are good at defining WHY they do it..

And the fewest of all companies take their WHAT, HOW, and WHY and turn it into a powerful mission that guides their entire organization’s giving.

Sure, you’ve created mission statements in the past. But merely putting the words on a page isn’t enough.  Living into your vision as a company, as a culture, is what’s crucial.

Your WHY is an extension of your values and beliefs that goes beyond the boundaries of your company and the pursuit of profits. Simon Sinek, author of Start with WHY, said it this way, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

Your mission gives others a reason to believe in you and your company; it rallies your team to a common purpose and builds a community.  By living into your mission, you create a community, a group of individuals with a purpose based on shared values and beliefs that inspire collective action for a common cause.

Consider Panera Bread. WHAT do they do? They bake bread. HOW do they do it? Fresh from the oven. WHY do they do it?  To provide comfort, nourishment, and pleasure for their customers.  All of this intertwines to create this powerful mission:

We are a symbol of warmth and welcome. We are a simple pleasure, honest and genuine. We are a life story told over dinner. We are a long lunch with an old friend. We are your weekday morning ritual. We are the kindest gesture of neighbors. We are home. We are family. We are friends.

As an employee, would you rather work for a company that says, “We bake bread” (WHAT)…or Panera? As a customer, would you rather buy from a company who says “We bake bread with whole wheat” (WHAT and HOW)…or Panera? Because they’re so passionate about their WHY, Panera’s mission goes beyond the borders of the company and extends into the community. With the “kindest gesture of neighbors,” Panera donates bread daily to the hungry. That’s the kind of mission that gets people inspired—the kind that creates organizations of lasting value and impact.

Get in touch with your WHY and see how you can extend your business into the community and make an impact that’ll last for generations to come!


Discover your WHY, develop strategic plans and much, much more. Start with our FREE, risk-free, obligation-free Potential Discovery session. This isn’t a high-pressure sales opportunity – it really is a chance to learn and grow and make informed decisions for the success of your business. Sign up at {%URL%}/.