I'm an advice column junkie. Carolyn Hax, though, stands above the rest of the advice givers and when she told someone, "Please promise me this: that you won't marry anyone until you're ready to approach your own life as if you're its CEO," I knew these were wise words for everyone. I'm not going to talk about marriage (although I agree with her advice on that), but I am going to talk about your work life. Are you your own CEO?
This doesn't mean you have to run your own business. If you want to, and that's what is best for you, perfect. Do that. But you can still be your own CEO even if you're not working for yourself. What does that mean? Well, who is making the decisions?
Kristen Pressner, Global Head Human Resources for Roche Diagnostics, shared a story with me about returning to work after having her third baby.
She was feeling angry and overwhelmed with the long days and meetings at off hours, both early and late in the day. Working full time with a new baby and 2 toddlers at home can do that to you. But she asked herself: "Who am I mad at? I'm mad at [my company]. But who exactly? My boss?" no, she realized, "He's been awesome. Who am I mad at? Walls, carpet? Then I realized: I'm mad at me--I have no boundaries."
This recognition that it was herself that made her angry revolutionized her mindset and her career. She decided what she needed. She said, " I'm not going to take meetings before 8:00 or after 6:00. I need an hour for lunch. When I am at home, I am at home. If that means I will no longer be seen as a 'high potential' or that my career will stall, I can live with that."
You'll notice that Pressner's career soared after she made the decision to be her own CEO. She did what she needed.
You can too. Here are things to think about.
What do I really want?
There are so many voices telling you what you should and shouldn't want to do with your life it can be difficult to sort out what you want, but it's critical to do that. No CEO achieves success without clear objectives. So what are yours?
How do I get to my goal?
Have you mapped out a plan? Some people refrain from doing this because things like promotions and new jobs aren't entirely up to them--the boss has to decide to give you a job, and your dream company has to decide to hire you. But this doesn't mean you're not your own CEO.
CEOs set goals and make plans on how to achieve those. Sometimes they hit targets. Sometimes they exceed targets. And, sometimes, of course, they fail to reach the target. But, if you don't have a plan set forth, you are depending on someone else to give you what you want. That's rarely a path for success.
Sometimes you need to change plans.
You mapped out plan A, and you're following that and you're miserable. It's okay to say "this is not working after all." Things change. Demand changes. Markets change. CEOs aren't afraid of change. They recognize when change needs to happen and they make those changes.
If you're waiting around for someone else to make you happy, you're not your own CEO. You're in charge of your life and your career. Stop waiting on someone else.If you do, it's like you've doomed yourself to be at entry level on your own life. That's not good. Take charge. Be your own CEO.