The Meaning of Life for Executives: 101

Focus Entrepreneurship Mindfulness

The Meaning of Life for Executives: 101

Oh, I can picture the eyes glazing over right now! There’s nothing quite like talking about the meaning of life to turn off a roomful of executives. Relax. Though I teach many things at VIM Executive Coaching, I am clueless when it comes to understanding the meaning of life.

In thinking about it, I suppose I had better amend that last statement. I am clueless when it comes to understanding the meaning of life – for you. We are all on a journey. Mine as an executive coach, is different than yours as an executive or entrepreneur.

Life Inside and Outside

We all live different lives, of course, and many of us are trapped in inconsistent worlds. At work, many of us try to be one kind of person and when we are at home or with our friends we are someone totally different – sometimes to the extreme. For example, at work we may seemingly be extroverts when we’re really introverts. At work we may proclaim to support a political party while at home we may endorse the other. At work we may proclaim our boss to be “marvelous,” while privately we may loathe the ground he or she walks on. When we are so different in our inside and outside lives, it variably makes us unhappy. We can get so unhappy, “The Meaning of Our Lives” becomes confused; we’re a jumble of inconsistency.

Many years ago, I knew a really great guy who worked for a seemingly great company. The executive who came in for coaching was politically active in a humanitarian cause. No use going into the details, but the organization helped children and their moms in impoverished nations. He never made a big deal about it, he just quietly went about his good works and, of course, worked very hard at his company. However, in meetings with his boss and with several of his co-workers, it was apparent they thought the type of charitable work he was doing was absolutely pointless. In fact, his boss was downright hostile to the cause. What made it more of an ironic situation is that he never told them what he was doing, and they never knew.

However, their comments and callousness kept him up at night. His “inside life” and his “outside life” were radically different. He was up for a promotion. He worried that if they found him out, he would be passed over. On the other hand, he wondered “who he would be” if he spent the next year, or five years, or more lying to everyone and to himself. He was losing his grip as a manager, for he could no longer be truthful with those who reported to him.

The Meaning of Life

As an executive coach, I suppose I could have ignored the dynamic the man presented. We could have focused on his job and in solving the day-to-day workplace issues. On the other hand, he began to raise another issue. As I am bound by confidentiality, while I can’t divulge something else that was making the man uncomfortable, I will share that in meetings some of the co-workers were attacking another aspect of the man’s life – again, without being aware.

One day he blurted out: “How much of my life do I give away before I no longer have a life?”

I answered: “Would it be fair to say your life is not authentic at work?” He wholeheartedly agreed. He also agreed that it was “creeping over” into his personal life. I asked him simply when was he going to go back to his life?

The simple truth is that as an executive coach I cannot give you the meaning of life. It is a gift that you must give to yourself. Through mindfulness meditation and the guided exercises VIM Executive Coaching offers we can help you create greater meaning and purpose in your life. What flows from that is that you will be a better manager.

I can share that the man who came to me with the “Life Inside and Outside” issue is now very happily re-employed. He is leading a more authentic life. A life of meaning.

VIM: - noun: lively or energetic spirit; enthusiasm; vitality