“Find Your Future Chief” was the headline in an ad by Dow Jones currently being used to attract companies to advertise in the Wall Street Journal’s Career Opportunities pages. I like the headline, but I think it is directed at the wrong audience. Instead of prompting potential interviewers to find their future Chief, I’d much rather encourage the interviewees to find their own ability to be Chief. Being Chief right now is more important than waiting for someone else to decide it’s time for a title.
I believe being Chief has nothing to do with level or title, and everything to do with your choices. In fact, here are five things you can do to be Chief now, whether or not you have a job and independent of your level or title if you do:
Develop discipline. By establishing your own sense of discipline and being accountable for planning the work and working the plan, you will be more effective at how you go about your day, how you plan the weeks and months ahead, and how you strategize your overall goals. Like a muscle, discipline is developed and honed over time, but it can also be part of every day. Begin to notice the areas of your life that could use more discipline. Then figure out what you need to do and how you need to do it. Next, implement your plan and measure your progress. Finally, you will need to make adjustments depending on the success of your strategy.
Be a supporter. While it might seem a role reversal, a great Chief must be a supporter for others. When you behave in ways that are consistently supportive of others, you will be better able to connect to people. When you align how you talk with how you feel, think, write, and act, your authenticity will be apparent. When you inspire others by doing the right things, the right way, they will see a great leader. When you enable those around you to grow, and when you encourage even the most basic positive attributes in people, you will develop stronger relationships, both personal and professional.
Discover your creativity. I define creativity as the ability to manifest, or create, the future. You have the ability to create your future every time you feel, think, speak, write, and act. When you connect each of these, one to the other, you are at your creative best. When you are having trouble creating the future you want, you can choose to simply “act the part” and feelings, thoughts, and words will follow. Do you know people who seem to have “tailwinds” that help them in everything they do? When you act in a fashion synchronized with who you truly are, you will find that things seem to happen more easily for you, too.
Cultivate insight. Insight is the understanding that comes from self-awareness. And confidence comes from the insight of understanding who you truly are. This powerful insight can be challenging to discover in a world that appears to move faster and faster each day and is filled with challenges, opportunities, and seemingly endless to-do lists. Your ability to be present—totally attentive and in the moment—energizes any activity you focus on and any reality you choose to create. Perhaps your most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that comes when you are still. In addition, by cultivating acceptance, generosity, and gratitude, you will develop the insight required to be Chief.
Define your values. Finally, a strong set of values will be the foundation of your relationships. I don’t assume to know what values are most important to you, but I encourage you to find them for yourself. I can offer a set of values—the four universal value principles—that I learned from my wife to guide your choices in life: truth, service, equality, and connection. Please take some time to discern what values are most essential to your well-being, and bring them to the forefront of your interactions.
Each of these elements can be implemented today. Being Chief now, no matter your level or title, will increase your productivity, make you happier, and help potential interviewees. The choice is yours.