You walk into the conference center, take a seat, and the person next to you turns, looks at you, and asks, “So what do you do?”
You could answer with your job title, sure. But I think you can do better.
In case you’re new here, hi and welcome to my blog! My name is Dr. Claire Phillips, and I'm a nurse and a healthcare change specialist. I'm on a mission to train 10,000 nurses to lead systems change by 2030. I do this by offering online courses, coaching, and workshops about systems thinking, change leadership, and professional development.
Let’s get into it.
What is a professional mission statement?
A professional mission statement is a clear, concise statement about who you are as a professional, what you do, and how you do it. You just read mine. And you can build yours here.
Why do you need one as a professional and a change maker?
Developing your professional mission statement is a highly strategic career move for 6 main reasons.
#1 You’ll increase your self-awareness.
Developing a professional mission statement is an excellent exercise in self-awareness. It may not be so easy to succinctly lay out the key elements of your professional identity. Your ‘why’ and the work you do may seem so much bigger than what will fit in three sentences. But by taking the time to develop your professional mission statement, you will force yourself to think deeply about the impact you intend to have – and which professional activities most support this goal.
#2 You’ll feel more confident in career conversations.
Once you have a clear picture of our professional identity and mission, confidence naturally follows. Knowing you have a ready-to-go professional mission statement in your back pocket eliminates much of the anxiety around networking events and career conversations. There will be no need for How do I explain what I do?! panicked thoughts. You’ll walk into interviews with peace of mind.
#3 You’ll exude competence.
With a PMS (unfortunate acronym, I know), you can clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and how you do it. This demonstrates serious competence. As an interviewer (and avid podcast listener), I can’t tell you how many people stumble over their own introduction. The people who have a clear, clean answer stand out. Start the conversation out strong, and you’ll have them sitting on the edge of their seat.
#4 You’ll signal that you’re a systems thinker.
Systems thinking may be the most vital skill for professionals to develop, as our world - and the work we do within it - becomes increasingly complex. When you develop your PMS, you’ll connect your professionals goals and activities to a greater systems challenge. Your final mission statement will demonstrate that you see how you fit into the bigger picture, as we work as a community to solve the systemic challenges of our time.
Leaders and organizations focused on transformation are actively looking for systems thinkers to join and lead their teams. Use your PMS to let them know you are one.
#5 You’ll make meaningful connections faster.
Consider the following statements:
A - “I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner.”
B - “I’m a pediatric NP; I work to keep Cleveland kids happy and healthy by offering affordable, integrative care that considers the whole family.”
A) tells someone your title. B) invites someone into your professional world.
When you lay out your values and intentions early in a conversation, you give the other person permission to share a glimpse of their own internal world and deepen the connection. If the person doesn’t vibe with your values or mission, it’s better to know that sooner rather than later. This method allows us to network more intentionally - and efficiently - by skipping past the fluff to find aligned collaborators.
In the Professional Mission Statement Blueprint (which is totally free, by the way), you’ll practice adapting your mission statement for different contexts and audiences, so you can make meaningful connections wherever you go.
#6 You’ll have a built-in professional opportunity filter.
Finally, your professional mission statement can guide your career decision making. When opportunities come up, you can run them through your professional mission statement filter.
Does this opportunity align with your intended mission? Does it complement your previous or existing professional activities? If not, does your PMS need to adjust to fit your evolving professional identity? Or, is this opportunity - while exciting - out of alignment with your professional mission?
Ultimately, that’s for you to decide, with your professional mission statement as a guide.
To be honest, I sincerely hope I convinced you to develop a professional mission statement. I firmly believe that EVERY person can benefit from a PMS - particularly if you intend to lead a career of impact. Give an hour of your time to this exercise and benefit for years to come. To get started, download your free Professional Mission Statement Blueprint today.