Oprah Winfrey is an example of someone who rose from poverty to be worth billions. She moved from being a TV reporter to heading up her own media empire that includes a cable network and a magazine. A simple endorsement from her can take a person or product from unknown to superstar overnight.
But she also hasn’t forgotten about her past and the values that guided her from rock bottom to the top of the mountain. While she has achieved great success, she has focused on her values to guide her, giving back hundreds of millions of her personal wealth to charity and focusing her media outlets on messages of hope and inspiration that she hopes will help others like her succeed.
She doesn’t necessarily focus on the next big thing; she just focuses on the right values and makes decisions accordingly. The results speak for themselves, and it isn’t surprising that she’s consistently ranked as not only one of the most admired women by Newsweek but also as one of the top CEOs and entrepreneurs by other media outlets.
Now look in the mirror. Are you driven by values to establish your goals, or are you just getting by? Values can give you the road map to happiness that often eludes us. Just like a company needs goals to guide its path, individuals need values that act as guideposts to a better life.
Take an inventory and list the values that are important to you. When you do so, you’ll be taking the first steps toward a more fulfilling life and career. Too many leaders are just getting by, lost in the day-to-day fires of business, knowing they are chasing something but unsure as to what that something is. Those that think they know are often confused by trying to accumulate wealth to achieve hollow goals like getting buildings named after them or being the richest of the rich.
Sadly, many on the rich list are poorest where it counts most: life. And many more burned out trying to get there, their identity destroyed when their business failed or the big project they sunk their life into never quite made it.
Finding happiness in success requires that you use your values as your guide and not your checkbook. With the right values, the money will come naturally. Your career should be looked at as something that you do, not define who you are.
If you were fired as CEO or your company went out of business tomorrow, would that seem like the end of your life? If so, it’s a sign that you are too wrapped up in your job.
If that’s the case, slow down and make a list of all the things that are important to you in life. List the values that they represent and start living your life by those values, and that includes what you do at work. Once you have your values identified, you can compare what you are thinking of doing to the list. Is your plan of action consistent with your values? If not, come up with a different plan that is.
For most of us, business isn’t a life-or-death proposition, so stop taking things so seriously. Take time to laugh and enjoy the small moments that are placed before us.
You would never consider running a business without some sort of plan on where you want to get to and the values that will get you there, so why would you consider living your life without a similar plan?
If you aren’t enjoying your success by finding happiness in the little things in your life, then you have to ask yourself why you’re working so hard to be miserable.
Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or [email protected]