The Business of Life

I recently wrote a blog about the difference between making a living and making a life, in which I encouraged people to focus on making a life (which includes making a living) rather than merely focusing on making a living. From this you might wrongly surmise that I see business as different than life, but you’d be wrong. I see business (or career) and life as intertwined and synchronistic. I also believe that we can, interestingly, learn a lot about living a life from business. I guess you can call it The Business of Life.

Great businesses have a short list of core ingredients that you can also use to build your life (and life experience) – The Business of Life. These elements will help you have more of the life you desire, including whatever impact you want to achieve. The five core elements of this Business of Life are mission, vision, core values, priorities (in action) and a committed and engaged team.

Let’s start with the mission – this is the answer to why you’re here. What’s the impact you want to make in and through your life? Who is the person you want to be in every situation, and in what ways do you want to show up in every nook and cranny of your life? Unless and until you’re clear on your mission and your why, your life will likely be nothing more than a random journey, often without meaning.

Next up is the vision, which in terms of your life is a big-picture look at the life you envision. In other words, what will your life look like? What will be its foundations? Will it be an adventure or a well mapped-out course? Will it be bold or safe? Will it be full throttle or low speed? What is your desired sign off – on your last day? In what ways do you want your life to be seen and remembered? These are all elements of your life vision, which is intended not only to clarify your life, but to  inspire, define and accelerate your life.

Underlying both your mission and your vision are your core values – what you stand for. There may be many values that you stand for, but which three to five will be your gold standards, your non-negotiables? My five core values are authenticity, vulnerability, integrity, full presence and unconditional love. These core values are also tools you can use in making decisions (e.g. Which choice represents living my core values?) and assessing your days (e.g. Did I live my values today?). Without a mission, vision and core values, you have very little to guide your journey of life, but with them you’ll have the opportunity to live your life on purpose and on mission.

The next element – priorities – is one of the most difficult, especially in terms of my expanded version of priorities in action. Many people talk about their priorities, but few assess and consider whether they’re living their priorities–putting them into action. The best way to understand priorities in action is to ask yourself this question: What do my actions tell you about my priorities? For example, if your family is your number one priority, it doesn’t mean that you always choose your family over everything else, but it does mean that your actions (when reviewed) will demonstrate that your family is your number one priority. It’s always easier to speak your priorities, but living them by putting them into action is the secret sauce.

Finally, we come to a committed and engaged team. This relates to the many people who intersect with and walk with you on the journey of life. These are your family, friends, co-workers, relationship partners, and other people in your life who inspire you, challenge you, love you, support you, push you, and sharpen you. These are the people who have your back. These are the people that you can count on. If you’re wondering about ways to engage your life team, it’s simple: invest in them, trust them, be vulnerable with them, have their back, and ask for help. Simple, but not always easy, especially asking for help. These are the people that remind you that you’re not alone on this journey. There will be times when you feel alone – that’s the nature of the journey – but living your life with a great team will not only make your life richer but will also enhance your life experience and impact. What a return on that relationship investment!

That’s it – the five key elements of your Business of Life. Mission – Vision – Core Values – Priorities In Action – Engaged Team. As you contemplate your life, I encourage you to shift your perspective and choose to live your life on purpose and with intent about what matters most. Otherwise, your life will end up being the outcome of other people’s choices and circumstances and that’s not your life. It’s YOUR journey, so claim it for yourself and everyone in your life.

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