When I started my consulting business in 2004 I read a book by Ricardo Semler called Maverick. It’s a book about different ways of thinking in running a business, by making it cooperative, collaborative, equitable and innovative. Then I read his second book The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works . These books were pivotal to the entrepreneur I wanted to be and shaped how I approached the company I wanted to operate, and the work I wanted to do in the world.
In part, because of Semler’s inspiration, over the years I moved from being a sole proprietor, to a partnership, to a group of collaborators, to a corporation with employees, to exploring the creation of a cooperative, and back to the hybrid version of the corporation we are now, doing work mostly focused on creating momentum for positive change and the collective good.
It seems 2004 was a big year for me. I’m a life long fan of the show Amazing Race – I love the competition, travel, challenges and team fun. I’ve even had adventures because I’ve seen them on the Amazing Race, like zorbing in New Zealand. So I read a book by show host Phil Keoghan called NOW: No Opportunities Wasted, 8 ways to create a list for the life you want. I made a list for the life I wanted to have – focused on all the things I wanted to do. When I look back at this 12 year old list now I see adventures, experiences, connection and fun. Many of things on the list I’ve done over the years, and some I hope still to do. I’ve done many more things than I put on the list. It’s been a wonderful journey so far.
Over the last 12 years I’ve run a successful company, our family has grown and is moving in new and different directions, and I’m grateful for the challenges, surprises and adventures of the last 12 years. In 2016 we plan to grow and evolve our company into new arenas, our family will branch off to new adventures and paths, and I personally plan to complete my coaching certification and do some new and different work in the world.
All this planning and thinking has had me re-visiting these original inspirations from Semler and Keoghan, and finding new sources of inspiration too.
Coming back round full circle to Ricardo Semler I watched his TED Talk from 2014.
I’ll be honest, I’ve watched it 5 times in the last 2 months. You should watch it. Probably 5 times. He presents lots of wonderful, resonant ideas, but I keep coming back to his concept of “Terminal Days”. Some people wait until they retire to do all the things they want to do, spending their working life full of striving, or boredom or sameness and routine. Some people focus their energies on vacations, or live life in the space between work and life, putting all their passion and energy into hobbies and weekends. Some people focus all their energies on meaningful work they love, but leave the rest of their lives to play out around the sidelines.
Imagine if instead you changed the way you live. The way you make choices. The way you live your life, work in the world, spend time in relationships.
So much of Semler’s TED talk resonates with me, and brings me full circle – how do I want to be in this world? What are the wildly important things I want to do? How do I live a life rich with the things that matter most, every day?
I’ve learned a lot over the last 12 years. I’ve learned how to ask really good questions, have conversations that matter with people who really matter, and support others to achieve their potential. I’m learning to apply these same practices to myself. And so I’ve re-worked my “NOW” list from 12 years ago. It is much shorter and more focused in 2016. And also more flexible and full of possibility. It has far fewer items about things to do, or beaches to walk or races to run or mountains to climb – items that often get put on a “bucket list” just so they can be done and checked off. I’m tending to think more about the whole of my life, rather than individualistic experiences I can have or trips I can take. (I’m still planning lots of trips, and thinking about mountains, beaches and races but they have different motivators now).
I’ve asked myself :
- What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
- When are you at your very best? What does that look and feel like?
- If time and resources were not a concern, describe the things you long to do.
- Out of all the things you do for work right now, what would you gladly do for free?
- What impact do you want to have on the lives of others?
- What is the wildly important thing you need to do this year?
I’ve got a plan for 2016 and beyond that is grounded in my values, my “most important things” and this idea that today matters. Every day matters.
Don’t wait until one day comes. Ask yourself these questions – and more. Build a life that matters, that has purpose, meaning and fulfillment. And do it NOW.