So, do you want to live your life like a boss, calling the shots and living on top? Consider living life like a boss. We’ve taken six top tips from the business world that can improve your personal life too.
1. Have a vision. Any CEO worth her salt has a clear idea of where she wants her company to go. Often, there is a vision statement that serves as a guide for customers and employees. Starbucks’s mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” LinkedIn has a vision of “connecting talent and opportunity at massive scale.” What is your vision for your life? Do you want to pursue your dream of entrepreneurship? Do you want to be fit, happy and healthy? Do you want to take a few years off to have kids? Do you want to travel the globe? Think big. As Tory Burch said in her commencement speech for the entrepreneurship program at Babson College, “If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.”
2. Break things down into smaller steps. Having a great vision is only the first step. If Starbucks simply directed its employees to “inspire and nurture the human spirit” and left it at that, it’s doubtful anyone would have mastered the art of the half-caf vanilla latte. You need to figure out realistic steps to move you toward your dreams. Want to go back to school to get a Master’s degree? How are you going to save the money to do that? Can you get your company to support you doing your degree on a part-time basis? Can you save up and then take a sabbatical from work? Perhaps you want to sail around the world. Can you get a job as crew on someone’s boat? Would you be content to forego lattes and designer shoes for a decade to finance a one-year sailing holiday? Almost anything is possible if you are willing to do all of the small steps required. It’s like eating the proverbial elephant: do it one bite at a time.
3. Recognize your strengths. Companies that are successful focus on what they do best. Walmart manages the supply chain to drive lower prices. Apple creates beautiful devices that are easy to use. Disney owns creative storytelling. What do you do best? What key strengths are identified in your performance reviews? Are you a great communicator? Are you a whiz with numbers? What nice things do people write in your birthday cards? Are you charming? Does your openness and honesty draw people in? The key to success lies in identifying what you are good at doing and doing that a lot. In the movie Love Actually, character Colin Frissell knows that his key to success with women hinges on American women finding his English accent charming: “Stateside I am Prince William without the weird family.” His friends think he’s crazy to move to the US, but he knows to play to his strengths.
4. Enlist help. In the Reese Witherspoon movie How Do You Know, Tony Shalhoub’s character reveals the secret to life: “Figure out what you want, and learn how to ask for it.” Rarely can we get everything we want on our own. Successful business leaders are masters at enlisting other people to help them work toward their goals. You can do the same in your personal life. If you want to start your own business, ask a successful entrepreneur if they’d consider mentoring you. If you want to be a better parent, ask someone with functional adult children the secret to their success. Mentors do not have to be formal. As Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet revealed to Financial Times Magazine, “I don’t have a mentor in the strict definition. I take as much advice and inspiration as I can from the people I am close to. Sometimes, though, I ask myself: “How would Audrey Hepburn handle this?”” The world is full of people who can help you if you are brave enough to ask.
5. Take stock. Companies are very good at determining how well they are achieving their goals. Sales figures are compared to monthly targets, inventory is counted seasonally, employee performance is reviewed annually, and financial results are reported and analyzed quarterly. It makes sense to take regular stock of your personal progress too. Perhaps you said you’d write a book by age 40. If you have only a fuzzy recollection of your 38th birthday, perhaps you need to get writing. Maybe you wanted to travel a lot and have yet to apply for a passport. Often it seems like the big things you want to do are pushed aside by all of those little things you have to do: taxes, grocery shopping, returning online shopping mistakes to the post office. In Think Like Zuck, Ekaterina Walter writes that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg regularly asks himself “Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?” Why not ask yourself the same thing? Are you spending most of your time and energy working on fulfilling your vision? If not, why not?
6. Focus on the next play. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has adopted a “Next Play” philosophy for his company based on the practice of Duke Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski would routinely shout the phrase during games as a reminder that the next play is always more important than the last one. At LinkedIn, Weiner does not want employees to rest on past successes or be paralyzed by their mistakes. This approach works equally well outside the office. Got a promotion? Fabulous! Go for celebratory drinks with the girls and then get down to work. Got dumped by a total jerk? Shake it off, as Taylor Swift would counsel. The great thing about life is you can’t be fired or cut from the team. There is always a next play.
Jen Lawrence has written widely on fashion, beauty, lifestyle and business. She is the co-author with Larry Chester of “Engage the Fox: A Business Fable about Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team”