As an adviser and chief executive of a large practice for over a decade, I was often told about the need for mission statements and five-year goals.

    While undoubtedly true, I barely gave these things more than lip service.

    Most business owners and leaders are self-motivated and driven, and don't tend to see the need for external influence, let alone feel like they need help to understand why they do what they do.

    I loved my role, got a real buzz from it and nobody needed to get inside my head to motivate me.

    Yet I have since had a change of heart about the difference having a sense of purpose can make. 

    As advisers we are adept at asking our clients searching questions, and helping them find the answers for themselves. But I'm not sure we are necessarily as good at asking ourselves, our businesses or our teams those challenging 'why' questions.

    Much is made by management gurus of mission statements and setting goals and targets.

    My experience is that doing this in isolation can be rather meaningless.

    Mission statements and goals can only have a value if they improve performance or change behaviours. That requires motivation - and that motivation comes from the prospect of finding the solution to those why questions.

    There is a great story of a car park attendant at NASA who said his job was to help put a man on the moon.  

    Sadly, there are a lot of people for whom work is the inconvenience between pay packets. Yet what would the impact on your business be if everyone in it knew why they were there? 

    If you're the business owner, it's worth sparing the time to stare at a blank piece of paper and start listing all the reasons you do what you do.

    Then put them in order of priority. If there are tangible activities or goals that emerge as part of that, then give them target dates to achieve them.

    You could then repeat this exercise for the business as a whole. You could perhaps do this in discussion with your management team, as they'll be likely to provide some helpful test or challenge to your answers. 

    You can then examine whether your business reasons and purpose are fully aligned with your own. 

    Next comes the brave move of getting all your team members to do the same.

    Essentially they would be starting to express their personal life goals.

    Some of their reasons why they do what they do will be solved financially, but many are not.

    You could then draft a personal plan for each team member to show how achieving the firm's goals helps them achieve their own individual goals.

    The art now is creating a business plan that matches all those individual plans with that of the business.

    Imagine the power generated by every individual in the business who is able to say at the start of the day: I know why I am here. I know why this task matters, how I have contributed to its completion and how I have advanced my own objectives.

    I know why I am here - it's a powerful statement.

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