Why executives are often some of the unhappiest people

executiveThese days, it’s easy for leaders of organizations to fall into the habit of seeing everything in terms of numbers, percentages and potential for profit.

Many executives come from an accounting background, which makes them already predisposed to this tendency. Additionally, the way the corporate world operates these days makes it very difficult to have a broader perspective.

Fiscal responsibilities take the highest priority (justifiably so), and there’s rarely any time or energy left for anything else.
The result, however, is that even though the organization functions well, there’s little or no joy in it for the executives (and, consequently, for anyone else in the organization).

Yes, they get some satisfaction from high earnings, from playing well at corporate politics, from successful market conquests, etc., but deep inside there’s emptiness that none of these things are able to fill.
I know that this must sound trite, but the reason for this condition is the lack of a higher purpose.

Money making for the sake of money making is a soul-draining experience.

Imagine for a moment that you are wa-a-ay in the future, and you’re sitting on a park bench with your grandchild in your lap. The grandchild asks you about what you did when you were young. What are you going to answer – I increased the shareholder value?

Don’t get me wrong, increasing shareholder value is no small accomplishment, but in and of itself it is devoid of spirit, it is lifeless, mechanical and will only confuse your grandchild.

It seems that there isn’t much that can be done about this – I mean, changing the culture of even a small organization is a tall order, let alone the entire business world, but there’s no need to undertake any such change. It is enough for you to change your perspective.

Ram Dass tells a story of a CFO of a large insurance company who quit his job and turned into a hippie, in search of meaning and purpose. After a few years of ‘one love’ kinda lifestyle he returned to his old job, but now with a completely different outlook. Whereas before his job was about figures and margins and fulfilling his ambitions, it now became about serving people – customers, colleagues, the board, the shareholders.
The same exact job now provided him with ample meaning, purpose and satisfaction with life, instead of the stress and emptiness he felt before.

So, your job, as a busy and important executive, is to find a purpose for yourself that will excite you and fill your heart with joy. Something that would make you turn up at work, even if there were no perks, no status to be gained, and no high salary. Something you’d be proud to tell your future grandchild about.

And if you want some help with that, I recommend starting with the Get To Know Your Authentic Self workshop, and seeing where you go from there.

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