The Art of Mission Statements

car drawing.jpgHave you ever wondered how a car fits together so well? If you look at the body of the car, there are different shapes and curves, and all the parts blend together into one harmonious sleek look! Have you ever wondered how that comes to be?

I have.

You see, when a child works on a project, it doesn’t come out so gracefully. I watch my child do an arts and crafts project, it all kind of just happens. The paper ended up being cut out in the wrong shape, no problem, now instead of making a cat; she is really making a house. she does it all on the fly and it’s all spontaneous fun. But the end result, as cute as it is, still lacks that coherent symmetry.

And then you look back at the shiny new car in the showroom; the beautiful harmonious shape, the curves and angles. How did it happen?

The answer is it didn’t just happen!

In order for the final product to come off the assembly line, a designer, an architect, in fact a team of designers and engineers had to spend years working out all the details. Only then could the final product be built according to the meticulous details and design of the blueprint.

This reminds me of the subject at hand in this week’s double Torah portion of Vayakehl and Pekudei. We read about the actual building of the tabernacle in the desert, in all its detail. But how was it able to be built? Well, Hashem designed the general plans for the mishkan in the previous portions of Terumah and Tetzaveh. But the architect’s plans were drawn up by Betzalel. Betzalel had a G‑dly gift and talent that covered all the different kinds of craftsmanship that were required for making the various parts of the Mishkan.

In Exodus 35:30 and on, we read how Betzalel was filled with chochmoh, tevunah and daas and all the skilled work. What are these? We will focus on daas as it is most relevant here.Daas as it’s explained in Chabad Chassidic teaching refers to the part of the mind that is focused on focusing, planning and decision making. When discussing ideas in theory, you can go on and on; but in order for it to be relevant and practical, you have to say enough discussion, now let’s make some decisions. (After all, planning is really just making lots of small decisions!)

Betzalel’s secret to building a successful and beautiful harmonious mishkan, was the architectural planning in advance of all the details of the mishakan. And then afterward, the job is to follow the plans and implement them. This of course, comes after the one line goal being highlighted in Parshas Teruma (make for me a mishakn so that I [Hashem] will dwell among you).

The key to a successful project, whether it is assembling a car, building a house or a mishkan; is the planning phase were all the decisions are made. This ensures that the project ends up becoming a cohesive, beautiful and integrated piece of art, and not the disheveled, ‘pay as you go’ kind of assemblage that you may find in a child’s art book (as cute as it is. and of course the innocent art of the child has a charm all its own, but that’s not the point here).

What we can learn from Betzalel, and from the car designer as well, is that when it comes to a project, if you want it to look beautiful and all the pieces to fit together and nicely integrated, planning is the only answer. But of course in order to plan, you have to have a goal; the one line mission of what the project is trying to achieve. To summarize: first the goal, then the planning and then the implementation.

And this applies to the biggest project of all, one which we each get a chance to have a go at - life itself.

What is the purpose of our life? And why are we living? If I want to live a beautiful life that is integrated and a stunning piece of art, first I need to ask myself, what is the goal of my life? Only then can you plan and only then you can implement. If not, a person may live many great years, but then turn around and realize it’s not the life they wanted to live.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! This maxim doesn’t just apply to the short term goals or even the five year plan in you business, it applies to life itself.

It’s never too late to create your own ultimate mission statement: your life goals and plans.

Shabbat shalom

Rabi Levi