In the heart of the Silicon Valley, deep in the middle of an office park, a lone light shone in an office on the 17th floor. Inside, William sat alone at his desk. He looked at the clock. Ten p.m.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he thought to himself. “This is ridiculous.” He’d started his day at four this morning. Another eighteen hour day.
He turned back to his computer. Staring back at him was the report he’d been working on since six. After seventeen years at this high-tech firm, William had become a regional general manager for product development. At his company, he had both power and prestige. Most days William had an enviable job: flying the company jet from coast to coast, dining with powerful people in fancy restaurants, and trying out flashy new gadgets. But tonight, all of that seemed empty. He thought regretfully of his ten-year-old soccer player at home and the game he’d missed this evening. He loved his job, but at the end of the day, he felt like just another suit working away his life.
Elizabeth, the new head of her accounting division for a pharmaceutical company, dashed into her office. The nine-thirty meeting she’d just left had been exciting, but it had left her with plenty to do. Since she’d just gotten this promotion, she felt eager to impress, but suddenly she felt like she’d overcommitted. She wished she could just sit down for half an hour and collect her thoughts, organize her notes, and make sure she hadn’t missed anything. But no time for that. She dumped the stack of papers she was carrying onto the desk.
“Ugh,” she thought. “The pile grows!” She grabbed another stack and hurried out. Onto the ten-thirty meeting.
Grant had a lot to be proud of. The founder and chief cardiologist of the Southwest Center for Heart Health and Wellness, he was totally invested in its success. The Heart Center had been his idea. He’d dreamed it up, secured the funding, and built the organization from the ground up. Now doctors were seeing patients and the research was underway. Three years after opening its doors, the center was a respected organization for care and research. Grant was as inspired as ever.
“What’s next for us?” Grant wondered, his mind buzzing with ideas. “A bigger grant, a research breakthrough, a new wing? Maybe we need new staff or a high-profile teaching fellow…”
With so many possibilities, Grant barely knew where to start. Suddenly he felt overwhelmed. His heart started to race. He could see so much potential, and he wanted to do it all, right now! But he was only one man, and a cardiologist at that, not an organizational expert. He knew he needed to find a way to make the Heart Center thrive.
“But,” he asked himself, “how do I do that?” He stopped walking. “Seriously. How do I?”
What William, Elizabeth, and Grant have in common is that, despite their success, they all want something more. William wants something more for his life. Elizabeth wants something more for her job. Grant wants something more for his organization. The problem is none of these leaders exactly know what their “more” is. So they keep doing what so many people do: slog through the work with their heads down, ignoring that vague, unsettled feeling that they are not truly being the leaders they could be or leading the kinds of lives they want to live.
Perhaps you’ve felt the same way. You can be motivated, driven, and extremely busy and yet still not be as clear as you could be about exactly what it is you want.
What do you want? A promotion? Time for yourself? Better relationships with your friends and family? That ever-elusive work/life balance? None of these are possible unless you stop moving long enough to figure out what you’re after. Explore your ideas. Envision a different reality. In order to achieve success in your life and as a leader, you need clarity about what you really want.
How to get that clarity is one of the ideas I share with leaders in the book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership. To learn more, go to www.TheInnerEdge.com. You’ll find an overview of the book, endorsements by such thought leaders as Marshall Goldsmith and Stephen Covey, and more.
In The Inner Edge, you will get that clarity. Ultimately, you are not just going to become clearer about what you want. You’re actually going to get it.