The Reason You Need a Personal Mission

It’s just a simple fact: Most mergers and acquisitions fail.

70-90% based on studies from Harvard and if they don’t outright fail there’s still a 60%+ chance that the M&A will actually hurt shareholder value and possibly threaten the acquiring company’s very existence.


But, let’s go back to this incredible number and figure for a moment, shall we? 9 out of 10 acquisitions will outright fail. That’s a seriously difficult number to swallow.

Yet despite this crazy figure people and organizations still try it and they believe that they will be different, that they will be the 1 out of 10. Why? Because if you can pull it off then the result can be quite astounding… astronomical, really.

But again, 1 out of 10 folks… 1 out of freakin’ 10…

I recently got to experience this statistic when I was told of the news that my previous startup venture would be shutting down. It’s been a little more than 2 years since it was acquired (and since I left) and a lot has happened.

But, clearly not enough for the lights to continue to shine on and, to make an incredibly-long story very, very short, I was told from my friend and cofounder that they would be shutting the company down in a few months time.

They then shared something public from the blog:

I’m going to skip any and all commentary on what I think about the board’s decision and let folks know that I do not necessarily have much more information than what I’m sure the leadership team has shared with the larger team. So getting that out of the way…

… I’ve spent the last week thinking about the company that I built and the people that I hired and the great times that we had putting it all together. I can distinctly remember the first folks that walked through the doors for many of the campuses that we launched and the first round of graduates that would get their certificates of completion.

But, perhaps most poignantly I remember the emails, texts, tweets, and phone calls from our students who would joyously share their offer letters for their first full-time roles as software programmers. I have kept every single one of those communiqués and have spent the past week reading through many of them.

I also captured a few candid thoughts on my vlog the other day – my thoughts are not complete and I can’t say that I’m doing my own feelings must justice, but, I wanted to capture a little bit of it on film.

I’m sad. I’m upset. I was a bit angry. But now I’m just hopeful. I’m grateful. I’m glad for the opportunity and it reminds me that every project that I work on isn’t forever but just a season of my life where I have the privilege and honor to invest all that I am into it.

Take the time. Listen. Understand. Image via BOSSFIGHT.

It makes me incredibly grateful for the work that I’m doing now, the team that I get to hang with, and the problems that we’re trying to solve because, again, it won’t be forever… it’ll just be for a season and a time where we can do our best work solving problems that we believe need to be solved.

And then, in time, we’ll move on to another problem to solve… and then another… and another. Some of these seasons will be long for many years and some will be shorter. It almost doesn’t matter the length of time but rather how effective we are in the time that we’ve been given.

Also, one of the things that I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur is that my own personal mission is just that: It’s my own personal mission and it’s alignment with my startups and my projects is what I’m aiming for when I say “Yes” to a new project.

The great thing is this though: My personal mission doesn’t stop when the company or project ends. It continues in perpetuity.

What is my personal mission you ask? Great question. My mission is to help other people and to create as much value as I possibly can with the very limited amount of time that I have left on earth.

Even more simply put it’s this: To leave the world in a better place than when I entered it, full-stop. This applies to everything that I do, wherever I am, and to whomever I work with.

If this looks like building a code school to teach software engineering then great. If it looks like building a consumer app on a million mobile devices then… great. If it looks like building a B2B enterprise SaaS product to help them fulfill their greater purpose and mission… then great. Practically, the specifics doesn’t matter nearly as much as I once believed.

The reason that you and I must have our own personal mission is self-evident and obvious – if our own identity and mission is married to the project then our identity dies when the project dies.

But if we can have an independent mission outside of any project then we can mourn and grieve a project’s end as objectively as possible. And, we’ll be able to move on to our next great work in due time.

The world is waiting for your next big and important work. Image via BOSSFIGHT.

The importance of this cannot be overstated, especially in regards to my own personal mission. You see, I will and should grieve and mourn and walk through the 5 stages of grief – this is a healthy and appropriate response.

But we want to move through the process in a timely and healthy fashion. We do not need to rush the process, of course, but we need to be dedicated to it as the goal is to walk through and beyond the 5 stages so we can get back to doing our good work.

You see, the world is waiting for you and I to continue to build, to create, to create amazing value for it. The world is waiting to become a much better place.

That’s why I will grieve. I will reflect. I will write it out and dialogue about it and I will weep and mourn. I will also be overcome with gratitude and thanksgiving. I will also rejoice in the time spent.

And then I will get back to work.