What is your definition of living life? You may think spending 60 hours a week in the office and then rushing to a business-orientated golf outing on Saturday is living life, but it’s not. To truly live life, you need to be interacting with all the different parts of your life—family, friends, nature, and yes, even your work, every day. The tricky part for those of us in business is that living life requires the exact opposite of what we are all taught in business and business school. Most of the old business structures from the ever-present “organization chart” to the “flow chart” are designed with the archaic premise that we are in control. Living life is not predictable or certain because no matter what any of us do, life happens. Life cannot be controlled.
Yeah, yeah you say. Can’t control life or business. Okay, got it. Then maybe you think, well, that’s all good in theory but in practice–at least in business you’ve got to control your environment, your team and your market in order to make things happen. Right? Well, living life is how you make things happen. Living life is how you inspire yourself and your team to achieve great things. Quality work, done with passion and inspiration. Adapting to changes with excitement rather than dread. I struggled for years before figuring this out. I was dismissing family life because I couldn’t control it and I reverted back to what I thought I could control: work.
I was wrong. In fact we have very little control over our employees, our bosses, our market forces or our environment. All we can control is how we react and adapt to these things as they change, and show up every day ready to live life.
The alternative is to try to control every element of your schedule, your environment, and your opportunities. This is the antithesis of living life. Life is out of control by nature, and fighting for control only sets you up for complete and utter failure. This is true now more than ever. The world and inputs are moving too fast. Entire genomes can be sequenced in days versus years. Everyone has instant knowledge and social media can start a brand fire that no one saw coming. Like my colleague Marc Lower says: “Knowledge used to be a competitive advantage, now knowledge is everywhere and no one controls it.”
Now the competitive advantage goes to the companies and individuals who can react the quickest and evolve the fastest. The market now rewards those who live life rather than attempt to control it.
These days, the holy grail of marketing success is to get something to go viral—that is, to have your messages proliferate like a living thing, to have them take on a life of their own. If you’re spending 80 hours a week in your office, how will you ever keep your finger on the pulse of the world? No, browsing the internet isn’t enough. You need to get out frequently with young people, old people, rich people, poor people, family and friends and see what makes life happen. Encourage your team to live life, too.
Going viral, or at least the idea of it, includes you, too! You want your ambition, your passion and your dreams to go viral. You don’t want to clock in for 80 hours a week in the hopes that someday you can live life.
So how do you live life? Practice going viral by doing these 5 things every day:
- Smile brightly and be thankful for all the special talents and gifts you have.
- Enjoy the chaos and uncertainty of not being in control of anything. Also practice absorbing first versus immediately reacting
- Do something you typically would not do – meet with someone unusual , go out of your way for something simple take a different route, learn about a subject that interest someone else in your circle and talk with them from your newly discovered perspective.
- For your next meeting arrive early and plan for things to last longer than scheduled. Its the informal meeting that happens before or after the meeting that is most important
- Enrich your life outside of work. Start a new hobby, leave work early to be with your family, start a business on the side. Whatever you do, set a precedent for living life both in and out of the workplace.
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. –Dr. Seuss