As successful entrepreneurs, we’re not in business simply to generate more and more business. We also want to build great lives for ourselves and our families.
That’s not easy to achieve when the demands of running a company eat up so much of our time and energy. For far too many of us, business becomes a wall blocking us from defining and living the lives we truly want.
The good news: We can break through the barriers and start living our lives based on our deepest values. So says Mary Morrissey. Her expert insights on the spiritual side of success have given her audiences with The United Nations, The Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela as well as numerous corporations and entrepreneurs. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask her how fellow entrepreneurs can build amazing lives to accompany their amazing businesses.
Here are her six key lessons:
Lesson #1: Understand the invisible pattern to success. The connection between intent (what your mind can envision) and the actions you ultimately take is hugely powerful. The things we see around us, says Morrissey, have actually been created twice: first as ideas in people’s mind and later as physical objects that exist in the real world. By recognizing that anything you want to create — including a more satisfying life for yourself — starts out as “just” an invisible idea, you can begin to unlock your potential for a true transformation. “No dream comes true unless you dream it up first,” says Morrissey.
Lesson #2: Stop engaging in “and then…” living. As entrepreneurs, we often promise ourselves that we’ll start taking better care of ourselves and living the lives we want after we accomplish a big event (such as reaching a certain financial benchmark or selling our companies). But because we’re hard-charging business owners by nature, once that event occurs we usually just replace it with a new big goal. We break our promise to ourselves and the cycle starts again. Morrissey calls this “and then” living — as in, “I’ll achieve X and then I’ll take a vacation/spend more time with family/do something I really love to do.”
This approach practically ensures that we never get off the treadmill. “We all have an inner blueprint or belief system about what success is and the things we have to trade for it. For most of us, it’s a work-harder-and-sacrifice blueprint that we learned as kids by watching how others generated success. The truth is, that blueprint is a very slow, very expensive way of producing a successful life.”
Lesson #3: Create your own full-spectrum vision of success. True success doesn’t have to mean sacrificing everything else to achieve great financial results. Morrissey believes in what she calls a full-spectrum wealth system — a blueprint that includes four areas: health, vibrant relationships with others, a sense of vocation that helps us love the jobs we do, and time and money freedom.
The details of each blueprint is unique, informed by one’s specific vision of full-spectrum wealth. The key is to ask yourself questions to develop that blueprint in your mind and have clarity about what you want your life to look like. For example:
- Where is the pain point in my life right now? Is it health? Is it that I’m not spending the time I want to with my kids? Something else?
- Am I wealthier in one of the four areas of my life than another?”
- If I could wave a magic wand and generate a life I really love living, what would it look like? Who would be there and what would I be doing?
Morrissey’s advice: Remember that if you can generate an amazing business, you can also generate a life that you love living.
Lesson #4: Develop an action plan. A dream of what you really want — even a well-defined one — is still just a dream. You need to take concrete steps to pull yourself toward that ideal vision. Morrissey recommends you start by aligning more of your daily activities with the vision and values you identify in each of the four areas.
For example, once you know the type of life you want to live, ask yourself: “What action can I take for five minutes each day that would move me in that direction?” Write down every idea that you think of, even the actions you don’t want to do. (Generating great ideas is like getting water from a pump, says Morrissey. To get to the crystal clear water, you first need to clear out the brackish water that’s been sitting in the pipe for a long time.) Then prioritize your best ideas and get to them. You’ll almost instantly feel more energetic and inspired.
Lesson #5: Make it happen. Make these new activities non-negotiable — put them on your calendar and commit to doing them. This is an especially important step for successful entrepreneurs, who have demands placed on them constantly and can easily fall back into old habits that throw them off track.
When you really commit, a funny thing happens. “Regularly doing those activities that once felt like extras — spending time with family or taking that morning run or whatever it is — you actually find yourself being more productive in your work and better at seeing opportunities that you’ve been missing,” says Morrissey. “That’s because you’re finally starting to live a life that’s more harmonious with what you have decided really matters to you. Things naturally fall into place when that occurs.”
Lesson #6: Be willing to say no. You’ve got to stay on track to turn vision into reality. That means being willing to say no to the people and activities that don’t reflect your full spectrum blueprint. “Let the clarity of your vision serve as a strong filter for decision making by making sure you are living from that vision,” says Morrissey. “It’s the little things you say yes and no to each day that fuel great progress.”
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