Running a successful company as a CEO can be a little like taking a road trip.
Road trips start with planning and identifying the big picture: desired destinations, highway and byway selections, securing advanced hotel reservations. Lots of questions with “knowable,” somewhat predictable answers are considered at the outset.
Then tools are selected: Google Maps for staying on route and aware of traffic patterns or accidents, the travel vehicle, luggage and snacks for the trip.
On the road, there are lots of little decisions to make, like whether it’s worth it to detour to see the world’s largest ball of twine. Where to eat, whether to take photos for the gram at all the scenic byways, or what tunes you’ll play along the way. This is where much of the unpredictability of having a business comes into play.
I’d argue the success of a road trip has more to do with mental attitude than almost anything. Mental preparation, whether the journey is a joy or struggle, how traffic or detours are perceived—it all has to do with mindset.
As the CEO of your company, you’re on a road trip that requires your mental preparation to be as robust as your marketing plan.
So while there’s much to focus on as you lead your company — revenue goals, team building, client and customer service, the list goes on forever — it’s absolutely essential that you keep your mindset clear and sound.
There’s no roadmap for being a successful CEO. Prescriptive books, podcasts, and blogs exist to share perspectives, but in the end, you must create your own path. To lead at a consistently high level, it’s essential to develop your CEO Instincts. Honing these instincts is a practice, but when the going gets tough, you’ll be able to trust yourself and your decisions if you’d made developing these instincts a focus.
Creating a personalized CEO Mindset routine will help you sharpen your ability to lead with clarity. It will work alongside your instincts to keep you making fast, aligned decisions.
The following 7 ideas are meant to be suggestive, but not prescriptive. Only you can develop the habits that perfectly align with your needs.
1 | Manage Your Energy
You can’t drive your car with an empty gas tank. Similarly, you can’t keep up the same level of performance each day if you’re desperate for a break. It’s hard to be creative or innovative from a place of total depletion. Restore your energy on a daily basis so you can stay in the best physical, mental, and emotional condition possible. No matter the modality of energy restoration you choose, be sure to prioritize yourself and your energy.
2 | Look at Your Bank Account
Yes, this is slightly un-sexy, but a tuned in CEO stays in close touch with their cash. It’s startling how many business owners are intimidated by numbers, especially female founders. This must be a habit you break. If you routinely find yourself avoiding money math, it’s time to create a new habit. It’s central to business success to make wise money decisions, so this shouldn’t be avoided.
3 | Identify Your Next Risk
This sounds formulaic, but it’s actually a very visionary thing to do. When considering the next risk you’ll choose to take, you’re thinking big picture. Not all risks are massive in nature, while others might go seemingly unnoticed. Considering whether to allow a team member to explore a creative idea or to allow for space and time to try something that might not work actually takes a lot of guts. Maybe you want to take a personal creative risk that could lead your business to new heights, but you’ll have to allocate time for it. When you sit down and get strategic about your risks, both big and small, you’ll build risk tolerance that will serve you during volatile situations.
4 | Carve Out Space for Rumination
One of my favorite speakers and authors, Todd Henry, frequently talks about a process of morning routine he calls Dailies. I love the way he shares this concept, because it illustrates the importance of something I believe is critical for success: carving out time for thinking. Every person will have a different set of dailies, but they should include actual blank space — unscheduled time for thinking and creative rumination.
5 | Stay Connected With Your CEO Schedule
Even though a well conceived CEO Schedule should aid in maximizing your time, checking in with your schedule and considering whether tweaks should be made is essential. Perhaps you’d like to create time for an important new project, or need additional time to network. Adjustments might be required to make sure you prioritize those things.
If you’ve found a great CEO Schedule that really works for you, terrific. Continue to check in with regularly so you stay aligned with your big picture goals and intentions.
6 | Review and Recommit to Goals
There’s been much written about the power of goal setting in both personal and professional spheres, but I believe the success of goal setting comes through reviewing and recommitting to your goals.
Consider whether your goals continue to be in alignment with you, your team, and your bigger company vision.
Goals shift over time. Some will become outdated as your company grows or changes. Others will see an increase in priority when opportunities present themselves seemingly out of nowhere. Staying connected and continuously recommitting to your goals should become routine for all CEOs.
CEO Success Tip: Write your goals down and look at them every day. Remind yourself why you are doing the small pieces that make the bigger goals attainable.
7 | Practice Being Curious
The most interesting people to talk with ask great questions. They’re naturally curious and become adept at following small sparks of inspiration or joy that are triggered by curious questions. I believe curiosity is a CEO Instinct that can be developed.
It doesn’t take much to begin this practice. Simply go back to the essential journalism questions you probably learned in grade school: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Put those simple words in front of a topic and let your curiosity take you on a journey.
- How can we accomplish that?
- What is that team member’s zone of genius? What dictates their best work?
- Who can I find to learn from who is an expert on topic X?
- How could I make this process better/easier/faster in the future?
Be open to when your curious questions take you. Some of the coolest inventions and ideas were created as a result of curious accidents, so allow yourself to explore.