If I asked you what the purpose of the Post Office was, you might answer “to deliver the mail.” While you would be correct, there is a deeper purpose to their work.

The official mission states: “The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary and business correspondence of the people.”

It reminds me of Simon Sinek’s appeal to organizations to Start with Why and to articulate their underlying purpose instead of just sharing what they do or how they do it.

Clearly, the mission states a deeper reason for the Post Office’s existence, but the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum (the former DC Post Office) has an even more emotional “why” chiseled on its building:

Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life

Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.

Think of how you describe the work you do. Is it: “deliver mail”, “provide postal services to bind the National together” or to be a “Messenger of Sympathy and Love…”? Your work may be more meaningful if you articulate the meaning behind it.

Source: USPS Historian

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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