Some lady on my Facebook page was knocking Mormon missionaries the other day and I couldn’t help but take notice. She said, “…most missionaries are clueless…just given their age and lack of life experience.”
As I read this…I couldn’t help but ponder the ignorance of this statement.
My question is…clueless about what?
I don’t know of another group of 19-23 year olds that have a better clue about life than missionaries. How many men and women do you know that literally put their entire life on hold during the prime of their lives in order to serve people that they’ve never met? Probably not many.
I wanted to ask that lady if she knew that the region between Provo and Salt Lake has began to be known as the next “Silicon Valley”. Do you think that so many of the greatest companies in the world are going to Utah so that they can have a shorter drive to the nearest temple? No…
Did you realize that Venture Capitalist firms invested more money in Provo-Orem companies/startups per deal than any other place in the United States in 2014? San Francisco came in second place and then Salt Lake occupied the third spot for the highest dollar amount per venture capital deal. (Inc500) This means that cities along the Wasatch front occupy two of the top three spots that investors wanted to invest their money in 2014.
Think they’re on to something?
Companies like InsideSales.com, Vivint, Domo, Qualtrics, Adobe and others are smart enough to know that returned Mormon missionaries come back at at age 21 as some of the most prepared and qualified business individuals on the planet.
For this and many other reasons…I believe employers should actively seek to hire returned mormon missionaries. Here are my top 5 reasons:
1. They Are Forced To Think On Their Feet
Mormon missionaries undergo 2 years of specialized training in the field of “resolving concerns” for people. They learn to respond intelligently and analyze situations thoroughly and naturally. Is there any more useful tool in the business world?
These missionaries are faced with a different circumstance almost every second of every day. I remember driving, walking, or riding home around 9:30 pm on any given night and thinking to myself…”Now I know I’ve seen it all”. Then tomorrow would come and I’d find myself saying the same thing again. You’re faced with people of all walks of life. Rich people, poor people, mean people, nice people, and people from all nationalities, religious backgrounds, and cultures. A missionary’s very survival and success hinges on their ability to think and adapt quickly to the diversity of circumstances they face every day.
2. They Learn How to Love Everyone
What if you were required to live with someone you’ve never met before? In the world…that might work out. If you didn’t like each other, you could ignore each other for the most of the day and then come home and sleep. Get up in the morning and again…go about your business.
But you can’t do that as a Mormon missionary. You are required to stay with your “companion” 24/7. That means…you better figure out a way to love this individual and work well together.
In the business world, the success of a company is contingent upon how well people work together in a team. For returned missionaries, 2 years of trying to figure out how to get along with almost every type of personality imaginable goes a long way for companies that want to build synergistic teams in their organization.
People used to wonder how Joseph Smith was able to gain so much of a following. They said, “Why is it this babbler gains so many followers, and retains them?’ Joseph answered ‘It is because I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand.” (History of the Church, 5:498)
Missionaries spend 2 years learning that principle of love.
3. They Learn How to Work Anytime, Anywhere, in Any Conditions
Imagine you were dropped off at a random apartment in the middle of a blizzard with nothing but a couple bags, your scriptures, and $143 dollars in your pocket for the entire month.
Standing on the sidewalk was my first “companion,” a 27 year old African American man bundled up in snow gear. Before I could even sit down and unpack…this man whom I’ve never met before says, “we’ll unpack later…drop your stuff and let’s go knock doors.”
I’m like, “uhhh go where? It’s a stinking blizzard out there and I just got here”
I love that guy for teaching me how to work…anytime, anywhere, in any conditions.
Missionaries see a side a life that very few others get to see, and they work at a pace that very few have ever been accustomed to. Up at 5am to study, out of the house by 9:30 in the morning, and not back to the apartment until 9:30 at night, 7 days a week.
4. They Learn How To Operate Outside of Their Comfort Zones
Most people live their entire lives without ever figuring out how to operate outside of their comfort zones. Learning how to push yourself out of your comfort zone is one of the most important predictors of success. This is especially true for sales people…and let’s face it…everyone is selling something. Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Pest Control, Alarms, or Internet Marketing. Customer service is sales. Interviewing for a job is sales. Recruiting employees…is sales. We’re all selling something.
You’ll never find a successful person in any industry who lives inside of their comfort zone. They’re always pushing themselves to get outside of their comfort zone.
You try knocking on random doors for two years and asking people to come to church with you. That is the epitome of living outside of one’s comfort zone!
5. They Understand the Principle of Sacrifice
Most missionaries make significant sacrifices when they leave on a mission. Sacrifice is giving up something you want now…for something that you want more…later. To learn this principle before you enter the workforce is priceless. Most people take the “now” route, because waiting is too tall an order. Whether it’s in a start up or in an established company, having a bunch of people on your team that know how to sacrifice the things they want now for the long term vision of what they want more is a recipe for success.
The things listed in this article are things that you can’t learn even through the best college education. A mission is like taking 60 years of life experience and shoving it into 2 years. There is no substitute for those two years that are spent in the mission field.
So…be proud to explain that “2 year gap of being between jobs” the next time you set a resume in front of the hiring mangers desk.
It might just help you get the job after all…