CEO Zen – Part 1

CEO Zen – Part 1


By: Junhao Xie

1. Look forward to the bad times. Plan for the bad times.

Down times, low energy, negativity, lack of creativity, and pessimism; all are inevitable parts of life that sneak in on us despite our best efforts to keep them away. The key is in accepting their inevitability. Many self-improvement gurus make it a point to endure through the rough times and just grind it out because that’s what successful people do. Endure, grind, prosper, rinse, repeat – all good advice and simple enough to understand. We look forward to the bright and warm times when we’re winning, but the times when we aren’t getting shit done are always something to fear and avoid. They have an ingenious way of making us feel that maybe the venture we’ve embarked on might be too much for us to bear.

You’ve got to learn how to love the dark times. Not in a maniacal kind of way, but in an accepting kind of way. Probably the same kind of way that you’d accept rain. It’s annoying, but hopefully it doesn’t stop us from going out and doing what we have to do...hopefully.

If you’ve had a few decades of life experience already, you might notice a pattern of fluctuating moods. You might notice that you’ll be extremely productive, have great luck, enjoy good relationships, and just have general feelings of well-being that might last for a few months, weeks, or days. The other part of the equation is that it’s usually followed by some kind of burn-out period. Everyone’s length of shine and burn-out periods are different. Learn and know what your mood patterns are. If your personal history says that you’ll go through periods of personal happiness for 2 to 3 months and then become depressed for 2 to 3 weeks, then alter your plans for that just in case.

A few examples: When you’re able to figure out when your next burn-out period will be, plan a vacation during that time, hire a personal assistant, delegate your responsibilities, and start training someone to keep your seat warm while you’re gone. Have your trusted second take control for a short period of time during your necessary recharge period.

2. Work slower and enjoy the moment.

A lot of the stress we give ourselves because of our workload is self-imposed. Sometimes, during a specific task, we can only see the finished product with a desire to move on right away. Not to say that finishing isn’t important, because that’s obviously the only reason to start something, right?

The next time you’re in a simple situation where you’re dreading the next half hour, hour, or few hours, try slowing down and telling yourself that where you are at that very moment is not so bad. Throw away your desires of being anywhere else for now. You’re in traffic, you’re washing the dishes, you’re in the middle of a dumpster, you’re standing in front of a crowd of impatient and angry customers, you’re participating in a monotonous training meeting – whatever it is, you’re there. Don’t wish for it to end. Learn to enjoy this boring, mundane, and lots of times, painful moment.

Your life will be riddled with rough, unfair, pointless, and unworthy instances. For you entrepreneurs who’s main goal is to maximize their productivity during every single breath, these moments serve us to help us realize our humanity. The road to conquest, ultimate expression, letting your will be known, and empire creation involves dish-washing, laundry-folding, and bumper-to-bumper traffic.

3. Invest in others as much as you invest in yourself.

If you’re capable of living in a temple for a whole year with absolutely no human contact and be happy with it, then you’re probably enlightened and don’t need to read the rest of this article. For the rest of us, even self-proclaimed introverts, life is almost completely about our relationships (or lack of it). Sure, you make the world go round., but the fruits of your labor are hard to enjoy when no one significant recognizes them.

Invest your time and resources in people who’s company you enjoy. Invest a little bit into your fans and supporters if you can manage to. Take the time out to recognize and appreciate them and they’ll give back ten-folds of appreciation to you. Give small meaningful moments to those important to you whenever you can – these moments are what cultivate life-long relationships and companionship with others. When you find yourself in the gutter, these are the ones who will encourage, support, and have unwavering faith in you regardless of the odds.

4. Gracefully bow out of relationships and deals that no longer align with your values.

On the other hand, you might find yourself stuck in commitments with people or projects that do nothing for you or your vision of the world. We stick to individual old friends for the sake of the memories you’ve shared with them, but that’s the extent of it. There may come a point in time where their values will no longer be a reflection of your own, or you may even find that some have become strongly opposed to your journey. These people can be anyone, including family members. Wish them well, and happily let them go.

Don’t be afraid to seek out new work and/or partners when something doesn’t feel right. This isn’t about being finicky or having a lack of responsibility. It’s about moving towards your own vision and will. Many will be opposed to your vision and will. Some may even start disrespecting the way you do or see things. When these things happen, it’s time to let them go. If they’d like to come back, then they’ll come back on their own with their own explanations and apologies. If not, then it was just meant to be.

Don’t take too long trying to salvage things. Learn to know when a relationship is salvageable and when it’s not. Lots of times, we’ll make ourselves believe that people will change when more than likely, they won’t. Waste no time with those who no longer align with your values, whether they may be good friends, family, or business partners. Do them the favor of allowing them their own space and freedom to do things their own way without you. Cherish their memories, but keep in mind that they are now things of the past.

5. Choose proper expression of self over monetary rewards.

If you’re going to accept the golden handcuffs of any company, make sure that it’s under your own circumstances. Anything less than an environment where you feel respected is a good reason for finding or creating your own environment where your heart feels light and your efforts are fulfilling. Don’t fall into the trap of staying in a highly uncomfortable environment that gives you money under the guise that you’re being responsible. Learn how to look for other opportunities at the same time and make those prospects a priority.

An actor recently said in a speech that there a came in point in his life where he decided he would take any kind of job in the acting business regardless of how low it paid. A few years later, he’s an award-winning actor with a popular role in a television series. If you can afford to do so, it might do you good to consider choosing ways of making a living that bring you closer to your vision, regardless of the enormous pay-cut you might be taking. Having been at a company for almost a decade, you’ll find yourself realizing that while you were very financially stable, you still haven’t quite evolved any closer to the position in life you’ve been desiring. Years of life have been passing by realizing the dreams of others while you’ve been suppressing the expression of your own self in return for stability.

Pick projects that resonate with you and reject any that have nothing to do with your own goals. Pick projects and partners that allow you to speak honestly and without remorse. All work environments do their best to preach open communication, but it isn’t really like that at all most of the times. If there’s any part of you that you desire to bring out but cannot, that environment is probably not for you.

Everything goes back around to the concept that your vision and the values important to your own self is ultimately what should have the most weight in the choices you make in your life. Move forward in a way that is fulfilling and relaxing to your soul. All choices you make should always feel light, not because they are light decisions, but because your convictions and the choices you make are properly aligned.

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