Blurry Vision Risks the Mission

Why Good Jobs Go Bad (Part 1)

Understanding and aligning with a company's mission is crucial for job satisfaction and effective performance, and proactive communication and self-awareness help connect daily tasks to the organization's broader goals.
Harvey Ramer
Harvey Ramer
5 min read (1103 words) Sign Up & Find Purpose

We all want our work to have impact, but making a difference may be harder than it seems. Being effective as an employee requires us to adopt the company’s mission as our own. We must align our values with the aims of our teammates. But coordinated efforts and shared values depend on clear expectations and shared vision. This means we often must encourage our leaders to clarify their goals for us, especially when we are unsure about our priorities. Being proactive about clear communication will help your leaders create an environment that allows every team member to engage more fully in their daily work.

I was in my early twenties before I understood that headaches and eye strain shouldn’t be a regular part of life. I was a full-time student, and on returning home from a lecture, I complained to my wife of a headache. She sensed a causal connection between reading a blackboard and my aching head and suggested an eye exam. I agreed.

I will never forget the optometrist’s astonished chuckle when he exclaimed, “You certainly will benefit from glasses!” Neither of my eyes had 20/20 vision, and one had a pronounced astigmatism. Whenever I opened a book to read, it gave the impression that the words were swimming on the page. But up until now, I had assumed that reading was challenging for everyone.

As I headed home with new glasses, the world looked new. Grass blades were blowing in the breeze, and what astonished me most was the sight of individual leaves on passing trees. Until that day, I had missed the beauty of the small things around me. The world was vibrant and alive! It had more variety than I’d known. On arriving home, I opened a book to read, and the text stayed in focus. I connected with the concepts rather than getting sidetracked by the mechanics of reading.

“… a small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do.”

— James Clear, Atomic Habits

Just as we overlook the beauty and fine details of the world when we don’t have 20/20 eyesight, everyone loses their sense of fulfillment and purpose when their leaders fail to convey a compelling mission to their personnel.

I Can’t See the Point

In my experience, the best companies have a compelling mission, and their leaders communicate it often. When I say mission, I am not referring to a tedious corporate mission statement. More often than not, mission statements put us to sleep rather than motivating us. The mission must be simple and unambiguous.

AutoZone’s employees know their mission. It is inescapable. At the start of every large meeting, AutoZoners say the cheer and pledge.

“Give me an A-U-T-O-Z-O-N-E
Who’s the best? AutoZone!
Who’s number one? The customer!
AutoZoners always put customers first!
We know our parts and products!
Our stores look great!
We’ve got the best merchandise at the right price!”

When our leaders share a mission with clarity and conviction, we have a choice: Will we adopt it as our own, or will we choose to work elsewhere? A worker who sees your mission as their own will never be lazy. They have a strong reason to get to work each day and a team with whom to share victories.

But a clear mission is not enough.

I worked at AutoZone for several years, and it remains one of my best corporate work experiences. Yet despite the excellent leadership and clear mission, I struggled to see how my daily work contributed to our success. With more maturity and a clearer sense of self-worth, this would have been less of a struggle. However, leaders do well to remember that individuals sometimes need help to see and value their impact as team members.

When we cannot see the impact of our work, we lose heart.

Clarifying the Point of Your Work

Leaders are human, too. So don’t expect them to connect their grand vision to your small daily chores. The impact you make when you compose an email to a coworker is out of sight to others, but it can still be a powerful influence on the company. You must see how your mundane tasks impact the company.

But if your tasks seem unproductive and you wonder if your work contributes to the vision your leaders have set, you may want to get some help. Though it can feel awkward, get coaching from your team leader. Ask questions like, “How is my daily work as [my role] helping our team meet [our goals]?” And when you do, you may find that others see the impact of your work as more vital than you imagined.

When you ask frank questions, you allow your leaders to connect their lofty vision with daily realities. In so doing, you enrich their understanding of their role and the execution of the mission.

Hire yourself as a mindset coach, and take primary responsibility for connecting your work to the bigger picture. Don’t default to seeking affirmation from others, but start by asking yourself questions first. When you ask a strategic question about your work, you will engage your curiosity and begin to see connections you may have overlooked.

With some feedback from others and plenty of thoughtful introspection, the world of work can seem new again. You will notice new opportunities to use your whole self to help your team succeed.

Aligning Your Work with Organizational Goals

  1. Open Communication: If you are unsure about how your tasks contribute to the company’s objectives, ask your supervisors or colleagues for clarification. This not only helps you but also could provide valuable feedback to leadership about communication within the organization.
  2. Personal Accountability: Instead of waiting for external motivation or leadership guidance, take the initiative to see how your work fits into the bigger picture. This proactive approach can make your work more fulfilling.
  3. Seek Feedback: Regularly ask for constructive criticism from peers and supervisors. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments to your work methods or to better align with the company’s mission.
  4. Reflect and Adjust: Periodically review your tasks and responsibilities. Ask yourself strategic questions to explore how each task fits into the company’s broader goals and what impact you are making.

With a little effort and open communication, you can find renewed purpose and joy in your work, making each day a meaningful part of your career journey.

Subscribe to Today with Purpose

Sign up for our complimentary newsletter and podcast, Today with Purpose, and embark on a journey to make a meaningful impact that truly reflects your unique strengths and values.

Today with Purpose Podcast

Today with Purpose Reader Comments

A Software Engineer Gets a New Start Each Week

“Every Monday is like a mini New Year, giving you the chance to start fresh with a clean slate. That‘s why the weekly emails are a blessing. You can choose to complain and hate Mondays, or you can be among the select few who embrace a new, fresh start. Today with Purpose provides a pep talk, wise principles, and a vision that can help you see that life and work are meaningful. I encourage everyone to read it and start their week off right with a vision and principles that don‘t conform to the world, but instead seek to serve others and better yourself!”

Bailey Lipscomb

A Writer and Coach Finds Simple, Actionable Advice

“I truly enjoy receiving Harvey‘s email messages. They are easy-to-read, but packed with helpful and encouraging information. I created a separate email folder to store them just so I can refer back to them more easily. His topics are very timely and seem to address issues I am currently experiencing, like self-doubt and problems completing what I start, or they address topics that can help me personally and professionally, such as ways to provide more impact at work. I like to keep Harvey‘s messages because they provide simple, actionable steps to implement, but can lead to a significant return. Referring to the messages weeks later provides good accountability to ensure I‘m following the advice.”

Greg Gerber, Writer & Coach at Forward from 50.

A Ministry Leader Enjoys a Few Quiet Moments

“Spending a few minutes reading a message from Harvey has become something that truly has been meaningful, thoughtful, and encouraging.”

— A Local Business and Ministry Leader.

A Coach and Author Sees a Message of Hope

“The value I find from Harvey‘s messages is an acknowledgment that many people feel dissatisfied, even with seemingly successful lives. His writing is such a reflection of him. Not a ‘get happy quick’ message but a message of empathy, compassion, and hope. He walks in his readers‘ shoes towards more purpose and impact. It is not quick and easy. But very possible.”

— Melissa Bloom, Coach and Author of The Path to Joy.

Connect with FlareMark