Two important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out WHY - Mark Twain
Many of the thousands of executives (across diverse cultures and industries) that I have worked with share that they aren't living their WHY.
Some because they still haven't found it. Others have put their WHY on the back-burner till some milestones have been met - marriage, kids, kids grown . . . it's an endless list.
Both viewpoints are understandable. I too struggled to find my WHY. Even after almost a decade spent in establishing a career in an international accounting firm, I was left with a niggling feeling that I was meant to do something more meaningful. But I had no idea what.
That is when I did something, which changed my life - I made a list of MY 100 DREAMS.
This list represents all the things I wanted to do in my lifetime. Having 100 items made brainstorming easier because I didn't need to overthink, filter or censor myself. As time passed the list became sharper and clearer.
Looking back today, 20 years later, I am thrilled I have achieved some of my big wishes:
- Be my own boss - I set up 2 companies.
- Have my own fashion label - help women look and feel good
- Run a learning development company - help people live their best lives
- Be a professional speaker, addressing audiences around the world
- Write a book - Win People Over - 75 Simple and Powerful Ways to Influence Anyone (2014)
- Live in an exotic country
- Help those less privileged (victims of poverty, trafficking, violence and disease)
- Get married
- Have kids
- Live a mortgage free life - am almost there
Now, again looking back, I realize 3 things helped me get these results:
1) CHECK OFF THE LOW HANGING FRUIT FIRST
These are the items that are relatively easier to accomplish and enhance your confidence as you check them off. This will also help you realize that some items don't really belong on that list. For me, I had loved the idea of being a jazz pianist, till I tried it.
2) DISCOVER YOUR INNER APTITUDE
While trying many things, we start discovering our INNER APTITUDE - the place where our strengths and passion intersect.
I took a sabbatical, went to Amsterdam, and worked with a not-for-profit, helping women who were being trafficked in the sex industry. Check 2 items - exotic country and help people.
It was an empowering experience, and gave me the motivation to do something more for women, helping them to look good. I returned to Singapore and set up my a fashion label. Check another item - be my own boss.
Despite early success, I soon realized running a fashion business wasn't my trip.
By now, my WHY was getting sharper.
My inner aptitude was my passion for working with people and transforming lives.
This brought about the idea for my second business; Influence Solutions. Another check.
Earlier this week, we celebrated the 7th year anniversary of Influence Solutions. I was thrilled when our partners and clients showed up in full force. Present also were the heads of Influence Solutions USA and India. Seeing so many of them come together to cheer us on, helped drive home the value we have delivered to so many people in so many countries and industries.
We now feel even more committed to helping people and companies be F.I.R.S.T ®- Future-Ready. Innovative. Relevant. Strategic. Trusted.
3) DISCOVERING WHY IS A JOURNEY - LIVE IT!
It's empowering and liberating to realize that the journey is the destination. As you travel forward, keep clarifying your WHY and learn to start amplifying it. It helps you to remove the stuff that you don't like, and fill it up with things you are great at and passionate about.
And that's a life worth living.
By Karen Leong, Director, Influence Solutions
Karen Leong is a sought-after keynote speaker and Influence thought leader. A TEDx speaker, and the author of the book ‘Win People Over – 75 Simple and Powerful Ways to Influence Anyone’, she was featured as one of the ten influential professional speakers in Singapore by the Singapore Business Review. Karen was also honoured with the Women Icons Award 2017 by the Business Excellence and Research group, and is on Channel News Asia’s panel as an Influence and Body Language expert, where she analysed the 2016 US Presidential Debates “live” in the studio.