How do most large enterprises drive growth and measure progress?
One common tool is KPIs… Key Performance Indicators.
What about YOUR biggest enterprise of all? Do have Key Life Indicators?
I knew I was heading in the wrong direction
In my 20’s, my KLIs were mainly about climbing the corporate and social ladder. Seeing the world. Having a blast while making my mark. My parents were so proud that I was going places.
But deep within I knew that each promotion, award and assignment, took me further ‘off’ course.
But from what?
I climbed into the driver’s seat, instead of just tagging along for the ride
I went on a quest to figure out what some people seem to have figured out.
The ones that had a gleam in the eye, a knowing smile, a lightness in their step and an all-round healthy, elegant, honest, measured approach. Whatever the circumstance. People with inner quality of life.
Over the years I figured out that their KLIs were typically around three key areas, Livelihood, Lifestyle and Legacy… and at the intersection… the “sweet-spot” … is where that illusive inner quality of life has the best chance of emerging.
Miss the sweet-spot and you risk being bored, landing up broke or even burning out. Sadly, it seems all too common right now.
Let’s start with Lifestyle
This is about connecting to what matters most within you and actively choosing to follow the inner voice.
Do you know what nourishes you or sucks your energy? Who or what surroundings makes you feel free or suffocated? And if it’s unclear, that’s ok. Find the time. Figure it out.When you get stuck, being in the driver’s seat is handy because you get to choose your next move. Not making a choice IS a choice.
Livelihood is next
While money IS important, so is self-worth. Livelihood is getting to a level of fair exchange and not selling yourself short. Imagine the level of engagement – the value you create– when you’re respected and receive the financial and emotional recognition you want, need and deserve? (And then imagine what happens when you don’t. Ugh.)
Finding your voice includes speaking up when you’re not being valued as difficult as it may be. And having the guts to draw the line. When you do what you love, do it well and are valued for it, something deep within you is grateful that you remembered to be who you are and know what you stand for.
Then there’s Legacy
No one is guaranteed tomorrow. That’s just reality. Legacy, therefore, is about what you do today.
While ‘what you do’ and ‘why you do it’ is important… finding the big meaning and purpose in life…for me, Maya Angelou said it best;
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
I ask myself two questions each day. When I wake-up, it’s “how can I touch someone’s life for the better today?”
And before I sleep, I reflect on “whether my contribution was for better or for worse?”
The sweet-spot and how do you get there?
Some say it’s luck. The genetic lottery of having ‘good’ parents, education, upbringing. Being at the right place at the right time.Hmm.What about those with no parents, no ‘education’ and ‘horrible’ upbringing – and successful; were they just ‘lucky’? Or people who ‘had it all’ and lost it; were they simply ‘unlucky’? I don’t buy it.
I believe that luck favours the prepared.Particularly those who are prepared to soul-search and have the courage to listen to the inner wisdom because getting to the sweet-spot takes preparation, patience, practice and persistence. Attributing it to luck may be convenient but it prevents us from exploring how our own attitudes, behaviours and perspectives that could be sabotaging our success.
While there’s no guarantee for ‘success’ … whatever success means to you… I can guarantee you this: if you aren’t prepared to be in the driver’s seat of your life, someone else is. And if you’re just along for the ride, chances are you’ll be ‘unlucky’.
About 15 years ago, I found the sweet-spot
It took a while. I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy. But I’m glad I kept on trying.
Given life conditions flux, my KLIs are designed to flex. And because they are now aligned…the KLIs become the sweetspot… life is easier now. No longer about external ladders, they are about becoming a better version of me, each day.
Five Simple Steps to discover your sweet-spot
Wow. Glad you’ve made it this far. Since you’re here, you might want to know what helped me connect within (also in my book, Simple Resilience). Here they are:
- Being Honest
Admit when something feels ‘off’. Don’t ignore it, wait too long or wait till it’s too late. Do regular “Life-Checks” on where you are in terms of lifestyle, livelihood and legacy and act appropriately on the gaps.
- Assume Accountability
Stop the blame-game. Sit in the driver’s seat. Make choices. Make your own luck. Recalibrate and Repeat.
- Seeking Insight
Like Einstein said “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. To take a page from Apple’s playbook: Think Different.
- Practicing Humility
Receive with an open mind, open heart, open hands (which is especially tough to stomach when facing inner demons, I know.) Somewhat counter-intuitively, humility is about having self-doubt: enough self-doubt to question hardwired beliefs and to stop self-validating and digging-in. Only when we stop hiding behind the veil of conviction, can we begin to loosen the grip on old ways of thinking, doing and being.
Yet at the same time, we need to maintain boundaries of integrity and self-worth, making humility, a particularly delicate balancing act to master. While the antidote may seem bitter and uncomfortable to digest at times…the person you are becoming makes it worth the while.
- Recognising Limitations
Invest and grow. People that got you where you are now… are unlikely to be the ones that will take you further. Surround yourself with inspirers, mentors, coaches, advisors and role-models that could work together with you on the gaps you’ve identified. Save time, energy and money to get ahead. Athletes to executives get coaches to improve the inner game. What’s holding you back?
In a nutshell that’s what worked for me.
What didn’t work for me was procrastinating and waiting for things to be perfect. If you’re heading in the wrong direction, going faster and doubling-down and being more efficient doesn’t help. Don’t wait too late to take the time and spend the dime because by then, it may be very costly. Like my Mom always drummed into me
“Don’t be penny wise, pound foolish. A stitch in time saves nine.”
My wish for you today is that you sit in the driver’s seat in your life.
Switch ‘ON’ to what life has to offer, Take the time to figure out your KLIs and find the gaps, (And start writing them down today). Invest in yourself. Find that sweet-spot. Uncover that gleam, smile, a lightness in your step. And as we all know, one small step… can make giant leaps.
And once you get your bearing, I hope you shoot for the moon…
…because when you do you might just reach the stars.
Comment below and share. I would love to hear your perspective. Your contribution helps me grow and think differently.