“What does it mean, entrepreneur? Entrepreneur is life, right? Everyone is the entrepreneur of their own life” – Diane von Furstenberg
Our professional life and personal life reflect each other. As a leadership coach for almost fifteen years, I see it over and over again. Case in point, a very successful lawyer once told me that one day she woke up and felt “Is this it?” – a classic recipe to know when you’re ready for a change. You know it’s time for lifestyle design.
Often professional indicators tell us we need a lifestyle redesign. Think about it, we all know the feeling of wanting more for yourself and your career. As a leader, I know the feeling and how these narratives play out. They take titles like:
A desire for leadership growth but feel “too busy”
A seething feeling of being “unsettled”
A stale feeling and longing for fresh ideas.
Undoubtedly, as high achievers we have a successful career, but these feelings are powerful – especially for those of us who have committed our work to advancing human rights and fairness. In times of massive social change like the one we’re in now, it’s these leaders who feel extreme stress. In these times we are prone to feeling overwhelmed, and since we are community-minded (lawyers, teachers, non-profit executives, and so forth), we experience a high rate of burn-out.
The indicators for executive lifestyle redesign is similar no matter your industry, there is something we can all learn as executives.
Inspired by my own experiences, and yes, Diane von Furstenberg, is a list of three ways to be professionally empowered:
Don’t split energy: Community-minded professionals often feel like they’re taking care of everyone else’s needs so they work long hours, and often feel under-appreciated. How does feeling “under-appreciated” cause you to show up in your personal and professional life? Lethargic, annoyed, disappointed? These feelings are not serving you, nor your community/clients. Choose to show appreciation for yourself and ultimately your clients. Do not split your energy.
Decide faster: Everyday indecision is holding executive thinking back. Maybe they take massive action in order to not decide or allow someone else to make the decision for them. For example, I decided long ago that everything I get involved in works 100% because I work my plan, and I’ve already aligned my thoughts, feelings, and actions 100% even before I get involved! I decide this quickly.
Doing otherwise will stall you. For example, A client I worked with was stifled in indecision and fear. I noticed this when she kept asking her colleague, “Can you guarantee 100% this will work?” My client was passing the buck to someone else for her success: 1) it’s a way for her to place blame instead of responsibility and 2) it shows a lack of commitment. You’re able to decide quickly when you commit 100% of your own thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Excitingly, your plan will work because you take inspired action! You ease your thoughts and are able to decide faster.
Coach yourself: Coach yourself, be your own best company in a personal and professional sense; otherwise, if forgo this you’ll lack problem-solving skills. I once had a student send me long messages loaded with reflection. But when I asked her to start journaling (a form of self-coaching) she told me that she doesn’t know what to journal about. This problem is rooted in the feeling of not being comfortable with your own company. Coaching yourself is a life-long practice. When you journal what’s in your head and coach yourself, that’s when you get your superpowers back.
Use the examples here and make them work for your unique lifestyle. Although sophisticated, these approaches are not hard. As a matter of fact, doing “hard things” is where we as executives and leaders thrive!
In closing, it was just yesterday that I spoke to an executive, in discussing their decision to accept an amazing position at an elite institution, told me that they felt “bad and had to make a hard decision” in deciding to accept the position. I had to remind him to not feel bad because we are driven to make a difference and sometimes we feel “bad” but do it anyway.
That’s why we’re leaders and executives. He agreed.