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Whilst the ultimate goal of working 24/7 to retire early and rich is being more and more replaced by living each day of our life to the fullest, many executives are still struggling with this whole idea of authentic leadership and a balanced work and life. I’m not just talking about allocation of your time (in the end, you decide), or getting to know your true feelings and desires. I’m talking about being who you are instead of whom people want you to be (or you ought to be). Let’s face it, no time management theory can help you unless you are able to say no to things that are nor important nor urgent to you. And above that, nobody’s perfect (even though we’re all trying hard to be) whilst deep inside we all exactly know what really makes us happy.

Although the amount of “obliged self-analysis” entering the leadership toolkit is huge nowadays, lots of executives still tend to feel weighed down by extreme workloads, responsibilities not matching their circle of influence, a lack of sense for overall direction (work and/or life), some even carrying the burden of a false image they are desperately trying to keep in place. On top of that, there’s this HR manager with an executive coach by his or her side telling you it is time for you to grow into your true potential. As if you don’t have enough to do’s already.

People get stuck for lesser reasons.

Often the real gain is not in doing more, it is in doing less. So without adding further to do’s, and without judging anyone taking another approach, here’s my idea on getting the most out of life:


1. Abandon the negative

Whether we are talking work or life, take a look at what is no longer serving you. It can be a thing once very important to you (that beautiful top floor corner executive office that is separating you from your direct reports), relationships gone wrong (start by kicking out the vultures), or simply too many to do’s (set priorities and stick to them). Overcome your bad habits by healing your old wounds (and stop repeating the same stupidities time after time). And above all, change perspective from rear view mirror to road ahead. Take responsibility to cut (or tie) any loose ends and take each opportunity to smile (remember, even traffic jams have benefits in store for you). Be grateful for the good and serve and give as much as you can. It will make you a happier person.


2. Listen to your intuition

Some of you might be reading the above thinking “who am I to decide what’s right or wrong? When is someone a vulture to me? What if something is not important to me but it is to the board?” I believe there is only one true answer to that and that is to follow your heart. Rely on yourself. Let go of the need to be loved by all. Choose. Take a break to get away from expectations (you don’t need to travel the world first, it can be one hour in nature or a visit to the gym) and be courageous enough to do or to ask for what makes you happy. If this means getting out of your comfort zone, just do it. Expectations are never one-directional. You get to say something too. After all, it is your life.


3. Don’t try to be perfect. You are not.

Everyone deserves unconditional love in life. I guess we all agree on that. Someone that loves you just the way you are. All your flaws and mistakes included. Someone that has seen you at your worst, but still loves you deeply after all. Yet, we tend to be so hard for ourselves. It is much easier to forgive another than to forgive yourself. In leadership as well, most of us fear vulnerability. Even broken, we walk with a straight spine. There’s no room for doubt. Let alone uncertainty. But what if pressure is rising too high? And what if you don’t know how to get everyone on board? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. After all, as mentioned above, expectations are always mutual. And you get to reinvent yourself as much as anyone else (with or without a coach or mentor).

Any other ideas? Looking forward to your thoughts!


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About the author

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of and a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach. After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself