Updated: Jan 17, 2022
As leaders, whether by title or action, we are often guided to 'think like you own the business' or 'look at it from the CEO's perspective', which can feel like a daunting task if we focus on everything that we believe we do not know. Consider the last time you were asked to make a decision from a leadership perspective and think about where you got tripped up in the process. For many of us, the trip up starts with questioning our experience or knowledge to make the decision, which sends us right back to the list of what we do not know. That focus on what we do not know can cause us to spiral into self-doubt, anxiety, overwhelm and worry, and those don't sound like fun spirals to go into, do they? The good news is that one, this is completely normal and not unique to you and two, it is completely possible to actually shift your mindset in how you think of yourself and your ability in the workplace.
This is where learning to be the CEO of You comes in - think about all of the things in your professional life that you have control over and then think about all of the things in your professional life that you do not have control over, I am guessing that one list is much longer than the other, right? If I asked you to write down a list of what you have control over at work, I am guessing the first thing on the list is you. And it might be the only thing on your list, which is also great, because who knows you better than you? If you stop and think about it, is there really anything else that you have complete control over at work? You might be a project leader or a department head, but that does not mean that you have the ability to control all aspects of the project, or the performance of everyone in your department. At the end of the day, we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on what we cannot control, instead of investing in what we can control.
Being the CEO of You means three things: that you recognize great leadership starts with owning what you control (you), that you continue to invest in learning and growing your most important asset (you) and that you are willing to do the work to own that role in your professional life, regardless of your title or position at work.
When you focus on being the CEO of You, there are a couple of areas that you focus on to drive outcomes. The first is that you define your vision - who do you want to be and what thoughts do you have about your vision? Once your vision is clear, then you set goals - for clarity and focus, it is best to set one goal to start so that you can get specific about the goal and really set yourself up for success in achieving it. Part of goal setting also includes considering how you want to feel when you achieve your goal. This part is important, and one that many people considering skipping over, because, well, feelings, right? But, when we decide in advance how we want to feel when we achieve our goal, we can start tapping into that feeling right now, as we start toward our goal. For example, if I want to feel accomplished when I achieve my goal, I can start tapping into that feeling right now. I can feel accomplished that I created a vision for myself or that I wrote down one goal. I can feel accomplished when I have a bad day or week and I get back up and keep going. Defining how you want to feel gives you permission to start feeling it now.
The last part of setting yourself on the path of becoming CEO of You is to define the actions you will take to achieve your goal. These are specific, measurable, and relevant actions that will keep you focused on your outcomes, and help you create consistent habits toward reaching your goal and maintaining your goal. This step is also important because often we think we need motivation (you don't!) to get things done, but what we need is a clear plan that we commit to, whether we are motivated one day to do it or not. Two key notes on planning your actions - make them realistic and write them down. When we set realistic goals, we are creating wins that show us that we can achieve goals, which keeps us creating more goals that help us get to our outcomes faster. Writing goals down creates accountability so write them down where you will see them and where you will be reminded of them so that they become part of your routine.
If we go back to where the conversation started, learning to be CEO of You does not mean that overwhelm or anxiety or self-doubt go away, because they don't. What it means is that you have given yourself the tools and resources to manage those feelings and keep moving forward and owning your results of your most valuable asset - you. And, when you achieve that, you will see how taking on the role of being your own CEO is improving other areas of your professional life, and often, also improving life outside of work too!
What steps will you take today to start becoming CEO of You?