Being a single mom has taught me several lessons but not quite like what being a CEO has taught me. I decided to leave the corporate world in 2009 and start my own company Fyreflyz. Being an entrepreneur, I’ve had the pleasure of doing many things, including giving myself different titles. As such, I’ve had (and am still enjoying) the great pleasure of being CEO to a small company, my company.
Having worked with several clients over 10 years (350+), I’ve also had the pleasure to be acquainted, work with and ultimately, learn from several CEOs.
CEOs are human beings too- they need a break, they need to rest, they need food and most of all, they have emotions and most of all, they constantly practice mindfulness. I’ve been asked many times, how do you do it? How do you continue being so calm? How do you detach your emotions? Do you have emotions? Of course I do.
CEOs are different. They are more resilient, more determined, more disciplined but most of all, they are survivors. It might seem like it’s easy being a CEO, a boss, the person right on top of the food chain – but it isn’t. It can be lonely, difficult and making decisions (small or big) and be extremely stressful. Everyday is a test. Everyday is a challenge. Everyday is a new day (even with the same routine). No one is more judged and evaluated more than CEOs. Hence, CEOs have to be mindful with almost everything: speak mindful, sleep mindful, walk mindful, eat mindful…
Now, I will share my observations of the many, countless, relentless and brave CEOs I’ve had the pleasure to cross paths with…
10 Mindful Things Every CEO Does (and every aspiring CEO should try):
- They care about how they look
First impressions do count. Even if one is seemed to be dressed “shabbily” – there is a formula to it. Either a color tone, a practical reason, or a strategic PR one, CEOs dress to impress. What they choose to wear – is often a reflection of how they want others to think of them (“intimidating, fun, serious, successful, funny, capable, dynamic etc”).
- They have a ritual
Rituals are everything. It starts even when one is a child. A quirky action here, a strange habit there, a coined word, a personalized action – CEOs have a ritual. I’ve met CEOs who won’t start a day without touching a pen, or wearing one particular tie for an important occasion.
- They form routines
Routines are mundane to most – but they bring order. For CEOs, routines are important. They represent an important decision making process: “how do I want to spend my time”. Forming a routine requires discipline, and commitment.
- They have a list of favorites
Stemming from the “lack of” time, CEOs have a list of “favorites”. Favorite gym, favorite golf course, favorite restaurant, favorite coffee… you get the gist. Efficient and effective for almost every aspect of their routine.
- They find time to read
Reading is food for the soul- how true and apt. You can tell a lot about someone by what they read. Input usually translate to output. CEOs have time for very little extra – but they do find time to read. From newspapers, to messages, to even books.
- They try to care about what they eat
I struggle with this point myself. When I first started the company, time was limited – so much to do, and only myself to do it all. During such times, eating became a luxury. Taking the time to sit down and enjoy a meal is more often indulgent. Hence, I gobbled down whatever is functional rather than good for me. 10 years on… I do consistently try to care about what I eat. I do watch what I consume; mindful that food should recharge and heal, not damage.
- They care about how they feel
Most misconceptions about CEOs are about their “ego” and “pride”. CEOs can be unskillful with their delivery in the “emotions” department, but they do care about how they feel. There are two schools of thoughts and reminds me of the book “Man’s search for meaning”. Feelings – though comes secondary to basic survival instinct, are important. Most CEOs do try to feel as good about themselves are they can. Why? How one feels about themselves, translates to how they carry themselves and that in turn, translates to the impressions and image others perceive of him/her.
- They value time
Time- we all have the same number of seconds, hours, days. Yes, we do all say we have limited time. CEOs rush through and fro, in between meetings, events, commitments, and yet, they always seem to find time for something new. I realized that a lot of it has got to do with the fact that they value time. They are aware that time is limited and that they have lots to do, as such – they try not to waste time.
- They talk to themselves
No, they are not crazy.. well, maybe. Talking to oneself is often helpful. You heard me right. Talking to oneself IS helpful. Why? When you put sound to your thoughts, you send a different set of signals. We all know what is right and wrong, but often, we need affirmation. CEOs mostly get that affirmation from themselves.
- They focus on solutions
Problems – we all have them. Solutions- unfortunately are scarce. CEOs focus on solutions, rarely the problem. Not saying that the problems are not important; but that it is far more efficient to focus on the solutions.
And there you have it, 10 mindful things CEOs do – or that I notice they have in common. While the 10 things might seem simple – trust me, it isn’t. I do suppose though, that the measure of how good a CEO is – is truly their success and how good they lead.
And, indeed, time is money.