Every day in every company, the CEO has to make decisions. It’s central to the job description. What’s most important is to make decisions with intent; make decisions that matter; and make decisions whose outcomes have a positive effect on your culture, your people, and your numbers. A good CEO’s decisions should propel the business forward.
But before you can make the major decisions that lead to successful outcomes, you need to know two things: yourself and the causes behind your decisions. You have to dig deep to get to the root of each matter to have the confidence that you’re making the right call. This new level of awareness will help you to become the kind of leader who leads with intent and purpose.
Socrates’s ancient prescription to “know thyself” has served as the cornerstone of both Western philosophy and modern psychology. The same truth applies in today’s corporate pantheons. You cannot hope to understand and lead others until you’ve done the work of understanding yourself.
Introspection is one of the most effective ways for the CEO to gain self-awareness. Introspection requires us to examine our thoughts, feelings, and self-image with the goal of identifying what makes us tick. Introspection enables us to not only better understand our motivations but also to determine what is most deserving of our focus.
Without fully understanding what we believe—who we are, our fears and aspirations, as well as what motivates us—how can we possibly hope to make intentional good decisions? If we fail to comprehend our own purpose, how can we hope to comprehend the purpose of our company and our role as CEO? Self-knowledge is critical, but attaining it is a process.
We aren’t given owners’ manuals at birth with chapters on troubleshooting. Nor can any of today’s life coaches or business gurus provide us with instant clarity of our life’s purpose and the path to enlightenment. Whatever self-knowledge we want, we have to get it on our own.
For leaders, and especially those leading in the C-Suite, self-awareness is the foundation of self-management and decision-making.
Focus on the Causes
The life you have today—effortless or challenging, energizing or enervating, profitable or bankrupt—is the outward manifestation of interior causes. These causes are embedded deep within your inner self, and you must discover the beliefs that sustain them. This life-altering process takes you deeper into your own psychology than most people are willing to go.
To discover these powerful forces at play in your leadership role, tread carefully. Be respectful of them but willing to engage them.
Think on this: through your life experiences—unique to you alone—you have developed deeply rooted, controlling beliefs. With no conscious thought, you make instant, life-shaping decisions about who you are, what capabilities you have, what is possible and not possible for you, and how deserving you are of the success you achieve.
Ron Willingham, the founder and CEO of Integrity Systems and a mentor of mine, called this internal narrative in our lives our lifescript. He said that we live in congruence with that narrative, whether it is accurate or not.
According to Ron, life presents each of us with a series of endless choices. How we make our choices is driven far more by how we see our own story than by any abstract, quantified, or even rational decision-making process. But how many of us ever stop to examine, deconstruct, and rewrite our personal stories? Only by doing so can we ever reach our own authentic selves and be confident in our choices.
The choices we make form our behaviors, each of which has consequences. Knowing this model gives us a tremendous advantage. The model creates a cause-and-effect chain of reactions that determine the quality of life you lead today. Therefore, it makes sense to focus not on the effects but on the causes that produce them.
Commit to the Process
CEOs have the tremendous power and responsibility that can make or break a company and its culture. Leaders who can commit themselves to the process of knowing themselves and the root causes of their decisions place themselves in the strongest position to lead well.
Your team will want to follow your sincerity and dedication to integrity. Through honest introspection and developing your lifescript for success, the decisions you make will be the difference maker in your organization.
For more advice on making good decisions, you can find A CEO Only Does Three Things on Amazon.
Written by Trey Taylor.