Most CEOs have achieved some level of success in their business and finances, as well as their personal lives. Beyond that, many seek something more – a bigger meaning, purpose or legacy. Finding that significance is a very personal journey; however, most successful people discover that aligning all the components of their lives (personal finances, business success and family satisfaction) leads to a sense of liberation that includes financial freedom as well as peace of mind.
This is the third article in a five-part conversation about this journey to significance. While we’ve discussed the critical importance of planning your transition out of the business and some of the barriers to creating that plan, we haven’t talked much about you and your life beyond the business. And the truth is, that probably feels normal to you.
CEOs embody commitment, putting in long hours and constantly pondering ideas to shepherd the business through every challenge that arises from start-up to maturity. In bringing that kernel of a business idea to fruition, owners typically sacrifice time with family, friends and hobbies – because after all, there are only so many hours in the day. But here’s something to think about: What if you spent as much time on your life outside of the business as you did on the business? What would your personal life look like if you started to run it like your business life?
Asking the big questions
If you’ve ever been in a coaching engagement, you’re familiar with the initial discussion where the coach asks all the big questions. Why are you here? What is your biggest desire, your greatest pain point, and perhaps, what do you see as the optimal exit from the business?
Addressing this question for the first time can trigger the realization that, in some ways, your life is your business. For many owners, that’s true, but it’s also true that your life is so much more than your business. Your legacy is your wisdom, gleaned through years of growing that business, and your story is one that endures through time. It includes your family, and perhaps a business that is built to thrive and prosper.
What do you want from the business? Viewed as a central part of your enduring story, that question becomes, “What do you want from your life?” And when you can answer that question, you can create an identity that lives beyond the business.
Setting the stage
The idea that retiring from the business means slowing down and becoming obsolete is only a myth, albeit a persistent one. Planning your legacy means deciding what you want to do next: What will your role in the business be in the future? Another key question is how ready you are to take the next step, as that controls what is possible.
If you still want to keep working in some meaningful and rewarding capacity, then you’re addressing these questions at exactly the right time. You have time to think and act:
- To decide what you want the business to look like in the future and then to begin making it happen
- To communicate with your chosen successor(s)
- To formalize a management-training program with transitions outlined
- To train, coach, develop and mentor the next generation of leaders
The effort you put into working with future leaders will have an extraordinary and lasting impact on the business in years to come, making it as meaningful as your painstaking labors to develop the business itself. And eventually, as you transition away from active involvement in the business, you can continue to find significance in new and expanded ways – including perhaps as a mentor to other business owners.
Telling your story
Setting the stage for the business to continue in good hands, whether led by family or others, is important for your legacy. But depending on your unique family and business situation, that plan may not address the full picture of what’s important.
What influences shaped you? What values are important for you to pass down to your children and grandchildren, both in the business and outside of it? If you feel there’s still more to be communicated, you might consider holding a series of family meetings where you can share your stories with loved ones.
This is a time to share your roots, wisdom and values with grandchildren and others. You can also to invite them to weigh in with their own goals and stories, and how their goals intersect with the business (or not).
Meetings could include anything that feels relevant and meaningful to you. Financial plans, discussion of a family mission statement or charter, financial education, group experiences to foster cohesion, strategies to communicate within the family and foster a sense of gratitude are just a few of the possibilities.
Like your business, your story is uniquely yours; choosing what to share and how to share it is a privilege that belongs only to you – it is part of your legacy. Whatever you decide, your RKL business advisor can help you make it happen.