By Michael Gunther

Last week, one of my mentors, Bob Biddinger, stopped by to say hello. Now retired, Bob has been a successful business owner, and throughout his illustrious career, he created a large consulting firm in Silicon Valley and coached many start-ups. His business experience spans over 50 years, and it was inspiring to hear about his personal happiness and perspective on the journey of a business leader. He shared with me that he has learned the power of saying “no” in order to honor his time.

Bob said that he hasn’t been this happy since childhood, and he wished he would have gained this perspective earlier in life. He realizes he created a busy, but not necessarily fulfilling, life by falling prey to working long hours and spending time and energy on projects or people that really didn’t make a difference. Hearing Bob speak with passion and conviction on this work-to-live perspective reminded me of the importance of performing a self-check.

A self-check allows you to reassess where you are spending your time and ensuring those are the areas that provide happiness and fulfillment. After performing the self-check, you’ll recognize you have the power to say “no” to the projects, activities or individuals that may distract you from professional success and personal balance. It is a reminder to step off the highway of life for a moment to assess if you are on the right road. Bob wished he had garnered this perspective earlier in life, yet realized that his journey actually led him to where he is now.

This discussion with Bob got me thinking about the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, where the philosophy of cutting out the non-essential activities in order to accelerate your career and provide more balance in your life is debated. I believe this concept starts with your willingness to say “no” to the projects or activities that may be distracting you from truly owning your satisfaction within your own life. All too often, this journey doesn’t come into focus until later in life, and frequently with regrets on how you had spent your time.

Isn’t life really about the strength and trust in our relationships – whether these relationships are at work or in our personal lives? We deserve and should expect to have solid relationships in both areas. It is the lack of these relationships that often causes dissatisfaction with our choices of how we use our time.

Bottom Line

Life is short. When was the last time you explored your life’s journey? Try spending some time each week without email, texts or the internet … just “be.” Start assessing your professional and personal life journey: Are you heading in the direction you have always wanted to go? Are you satisfied with your choices on how you spend your time? What can you eliminate from your life in order to bring more career or personal satisfaction and balance? Your answers might surprise you. Don’t you owe it to yourself to assess your journey on a regular basis? It will make you a stronger individual and, most likely, a stronger leader.

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