As leaders, many of us think that we’ve already succeeded in one or more aspects of our lives. And we have. Many of us have been blessed with the opportunity to create much financial success for ourselves and those around us. Yet, how many of us will be able to say that we’ve achieved significance when we look back on our lives? As you reflect on your life, what do you want to accomplish?
Have you achieved some life goals beyond financial success? Most of us have developed business plans but very few of us have life plans. Do you feel that you’ve succeeded in areas that are meaningful? Have you left the mark that you would have liked to, in a significant way? Beyond your children, what is your legacy? These might seem like a lot of questions, but asking them now, and setting life goals early in life, is much more empowering than saying on your death bed one day, “If only I’d done more with my life…” after all, we all know that we won’t be saying, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
After many years of sharing ideas with fellow CEOs on life planning, and based on my own personal experiences, I’m convinced that the progression from financial success to an increased focus on significance strikes a true chord with many of us. We all have dreams and goals that are significant on a personal level.
Defining these as part of a life plan that gets revisited often is a process that can help make your dreams a reality, much the same as a business plan helps organizations stay focused. On a broader, global scale how do we, as business leaders, take our time, skills and talent and become real leaders – truly making a difference? Setting personal goals and giving back have been so compelling to me as a father, son, husband, philanthropist and businessman that when I founded my current (and last) company – STS Capital Partners, an international, strategic mergers and acquisitions firm – this was at the core of our mission; that is to help families and entrepreneurs on their path from Success To Significance.
I wanted to start an organization that would help position families directly with strategic investors, resulting in them having the flexibility and liquidity to work more on charitable and other missions; becoming catalysts for the creation of new philanthropic endeavours. There are many successful leaders and consultants available to help others create value and significance, whether it’s maximizing financial assets to enable funds to be channeled to family foundations and charitable causes, or simply accomplishing objectives that are more personal.
Imagine not having any regrets when you reach the end of your life. I have compiled my personal list of best practices on life planning over the years and compiled this into a presentation called Everyone Has Their Own Everest: What Is Yours?. The presentation is not about me, but rather about you. If you had all the time, money, freedom and energy in the world, what would you set as your stretch goals? Why not set them now?
You can achieve almost any goal if you actually re-program your subconscious mind by believing that you are limitless and you can achieve anything you want in life. When I established the goal of climbing the Seven Summits, I had never climbed a single mountain before – that didn’t stop me from setting an ambitious goal.
Doesn’t it seem a lot more prudent to ask the question “what if”, today, and in so doing expanding the view of your life to achieve these goals? Doing this now means you begin to act on them, rather than leaving them floating around as dreams. A practical way of making this happen is to spend a weekend, with your partner, making a list of everything you really want to do before you die. Put a five year deadline on achieving these goals, with a deadline in year four that sees your action plan ready for launch the following year.
This is how you will achieve your goals, and how my partner and myself made it to the top of Everest. It’s hard… but it’s also exciting, empowering and energizing. We have been so conditioned as humans to resist change and not stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone that we forget what we are capable of. Integrating your life goals with solving some of the world’s problems around us is the next step for many of us.
Many charities and organizations that serve the less fortunate have huge mountains of their own to climb. Helping them reach their summits can often be an important step in creating a lasting legacy for yourself. Everyone has their own Everest, what’s yours?
Rob Follows is CEO and founder of STS Capital Partners. www.stscapital.com