The difference between mission and vision
While a mission is constant, a vision changes as things evolve in and around the practice. A vision statement should be modified
as practice and societal demands dictate. Our vision should be pretty specific about what we hope to achieve and accomplish
as well as what we want to become. Words that end in -est and imply greatness and achievement are generally part of a vision statement. Your vision statement implies continuing focus
on improvement and aspiration.
How core values fit in
Even more deeply seated are the core values of the practice leaders and the team. Core values reflect the essence of who we
are as individuals. And unfortunately, sometimes one individual's core values are out of sync with the vision for the practice
or with the mission as stated. The most well-articulated mission statement and the most farsighted vision will fail to be
realized if the core values of the team and the practice leaders are not supported.
A few months back I shared that a key gauge of success is your answer to the question "Are you happy?" (see the February issue).
Look at your personal values—those traits you hold most dear. Can you be happy if your core values are at risk? Are your core
values consistent with how you operate your business? If not, conflict and internal turmoil will recur. Personal values must
always come first. Not sometimes. Not usually. Every time. If we fail to live out our core values, we will not have personal
integrity. Trying to adopt someone else's values will result in tension, conflict and resentment, which will affect not only
work interactions but our personal experience of every day.
For instance, if one of your core values is prioritizing your family and being involved in your children's lives and your
practice leaders don't agree that family comes first, someone will find themselves on the wrong side of a choice. If providing
service to those who cannot afford it is a core value and this jeopardizes the financial success of the practice, one or more
practice leaders may force the issue. The result? Someone's values are compromised.
Core values are not situational. If a core value is honesty, it means we never lie. If a core value is respect, it means we
treat others with respect—not usually, but always. When core values and practice culture are out of alignment, we face difficult
choices. One path is to stay in the situation and make your best effort to maintain the integrity of your own core values.
A second choice is to continually confront the inevitable conflicts and try to find a way to please everyone. Not likely to
work, is it? The final choice is to leave your position, which can result in bad feelings and burned bridges all around. When
you are deciding on a major step in your career, remember that neither you, nor your practice, nor your business partners
should be expected to sacrifice who you are. The answer? Know yourself and your core values. They are not for sale.
Together, our mission, our vision and our core values determine our experience of practice and our life's results. Mission
statements are a roadmap we can refer to often and use to illustrate our goals. Vision statements are a destination—never
far away from our mission, they are a picture of where we want to go. Core values are the moral compass by which we steer.
All we need to do is follow the needle.
Dr. Michael Paul, @mikepauldvm on Twitter, is a nationally known speaker and columnist and the principal of Magpie Veterinary
Consulting. He lives in Anguilla in the British West Indies.