8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life

“Women have never had so many options. Yet we often experience a kind of paralysis, an unconscious willingness to follow societal dictates rather than become the CEOs of our own lives. When we mindlessly follow the dots, we smother our innate gifts and miss opportunities to fulfill our true potential.” -Shannon Ables, Choosing the Simply […] Listen now or continue reading below.


“Women have never had so many options. Yet we often experience a kind of paralysis, an unconscious willingness to follow societal dictates rather than become the CEOs of our own lives. When we mindlessly follow the dots, we smother our innate gifts and miss opportunities to fulfill our true potential.” -Shannon Ables, Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide

The Simple Sophisticate, episode #40

Being the head of any company, no matter how successful, can be exhausting, demanding and emotionally taxing as the primary decisions and direction of where a company is going rests squarely on the CEO’s shoulders. However, much like Apple, OWN or Berkshire Hathaway, each of these companies have been successful, and at the helm for the entire time, or the nearly the entire time, one person has manned the rudder. All three of these CEOs started from nothing; all three of them had tumultuous times, but all three, due to their tenacity, clear vision and dogged work ethic, have been and still are very successful.

How we go about each of our lives is not that much different from how a company is run. Each life has the potential for success or catastrophe depending upon how it is managed. Choosing to take the director’s seat (apologies for mixing metaphors) can be daunting, intimidating and frightening because if success isn’t attained, all the responsibility falls back to the top dog; however, if success materializes, we will be able to pat ourselves on the back.

Much like predicting the stock market’s ebbs and flows, life too is unpredictable, but if you choose to incorporate these eight components into your life’s mission statement as CEO, you will indeed be more likely to soar with the eagles than remain on the ground.

1. Look Beyond Others’ Approval

Having just wrapped up teaching the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the activities I include in my end of the unit lessons incorporates psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg’s Ideas of Moral Reasoning. Including six levels, he describes that each of us makes decisions depending upon one of these six levels depending upon how morally developed we have become. Placement is fluid as we can swift based on maturity and experience, but the primary reason we should each aspire to let go of what others think is because it is beneath us and will hinder our overall fulfillment in life.

Seeking self-approval is number three on the levels of moral reasoning, and in contrast, the highest level is to follow a set of self-formulated principles that aspires to see beyond popular or legal dictates, but rather determine what is best for society worldwide. It indeed takes a strong person to establish and then follow through on such an elevated way of approaching life, but much like Atticus (who is indeed defined as having reached this top level), it is worth it.

Attaining the sixth level takes time, self-reflection and inner courage. An example that always comes to mind is the idea of choosing to have children. Society, in many ways still expects, either consciously or unconsciously for women to desire to have children, and if such a choice is not made, many will jump to conclusions. In Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum, each writer reveals though their narration that being selfish, shallow and self-absorbed is actually the furthest from the truth when it comes to describing such individuals who have the inner courage to follow their own self-formualted set of principles.

Whether one chooses to have child or not, marry or not, pursue a particular career or not, should only be because they find it to be in alignment with their path, their talents, their passions instead of simply following the crowd. The example above is merely to point out, that if your path isn’t the one society is used to seeing, you may have to muster of your gumption, but it will at times to difficult. But rest assured, if you know it to be the best path for you, the approval from others will be the furthest from your mind.

A truly fulfilling life can only materialize if we choose the life we are living for ourselves. So rather than seeking others’ approval, seek first your own approval and have the courage to follow through.

2. Pursue Your Path With Determination

“If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it. If if you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there . . . ” -Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS 

It has been my experience that very few things worth having, experiencing or being involved with, happen with the snap of the fingers. Rather, life often wants to assess how badly we desire something, be it a job, a new life, or a relationship. And while it may seem that life is shutting the door on our dreams, I’ve never found the door to be locked if it is indeed something that is possible. Life merely wants to know if we indeed want it as much as we say we do, in other words, continue to knock.

Ultimately, we each have to know what we want in order to pursue it and attain it. And once we know what we want, pursue it without relenting. Showing such determination will eventually be rewarded.

3. Care For Your Temple Regularly

In order to do our best, be productive and be able to evolve into the person we are confident we can become, we must care for our bodies, internal, externally and mentally, on a regular basis. Adhering to a regular workout routine, practicing regular mind mastery techniques (meditation), and tending to our beauty regimen is not an effort in vanity, rather an approach that will allow us to perform our best, as well as feel our best, so that we can forget about what our body, mind and physical appearance is and simply go about our job.

In a recent Huffington Post article, the writer compares this tending to the body as sharpening the saw. Spending additional time caring for our bodies is much like sharpening a saw. If we come to the forest with the sharpest utensil in the group, we will slice through the tree trunk in mere minutes, while a dull blade that has not been tended to may start out the quickest, but will take hours to complete. Take the time, regularly, to take care of the only vessel that can make your dreams a reality – your whole being.

4. Mastery of Your Mind

“But there’s also the everyday kind of magic that we make for ourselves. And that’s really not magic at all. It’s just recognizing the fact that we control our thoughts and our thoughts control our lives.” -Sophia Amoruso

As mentioned in #3, tending to our mind, becoming the master of it, is crucial to success. In fact, not tending to our mental strength can diminish our chances as Sophia Amoruso points out,“I also think you can end up ignoring, and even losing, the positive things in your life by focusing too much on the negative.” (Click here for episode #20 – How to Master Your Mind)

The reality we create in our minds is often what will materialize in the world we live in. So what do you want to see in the near future? Have the strength and the tenacity to boot out the bad, and usher in the good. “You have to kick people out of your head as forcefully as you’d kick someone out of your house if you didn’t want them to be there.” -Sophia Amoruso

5. Respect the Power of Money

“Money spells freedom. If you learn to control your finances, you won’t find yourself stuck in jobs, places, or relationships that you hate just because you can’t afford to go elsewhere.” – Sophia Amoruso

Most of us start off with little, but it is how we care for the money we are given and earn as we start to build our financial foundation that will determine if we will be successful in the long run. Those who turn up their noses at earning money, either don’t know how to do it or don’t understand the power it yields. And so long as the power is used for good, the life you will create will be amazing. Click here to discover TSLL Money archived posts or read Chapter 3 of my book to become the master of your finances.

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.” -Calvin Coolidge

6. Know How to Market Yourself

Whether you want to be an entrepreneur or not, we each will be on the hunt for a job at some point, and the key is to know how to sell ourselves successfully to attain the career we seek. In #GIRLBOSS, Amoruso shares in detail tips and tricks on how to write a successful cover letter, resume, give a winning interview and work effectively in the company. Tune into today’s episode of the podcast to hear a handful of tips I have learned along the way as well.

7. Become an Effective Communicator

Two of the most important factors in becoming an effective communicator are being strong enough to be authentic and knowing our audience. While we will tend to make mistakes along the way, so long as we are doing our best, choosing to be honest so as not to manipulate or deceive, our approach will be met with respect. People may not always like what we have to say, but they will come to trust that we have to say is dependable.

Whether in our personal or professional lives, being an active participant when it comes to communication will reap far more success than being passive and assuming others know what we want. Part of the reason there are so few effective communicators is because it is not easy. It takes strength, knowledge of the subject matter and control of one’s emotions, to effectively convey what we want to those involved in the colloquy. But with anything, so long as you we are each willing practice, learn from our previous missteps, and try again, we will improve.

8. Redefine Failure

“It is she who listens to the rest of the world who fails, and it is she who has enough confidence to define success and failure for herself who succeeds.” – Sophia Amoruso

The only way to be successful is to risk what many define as failure. But here’s the catch, it is never really failure, so long as there is a lesson to be learned from the experience. And the good news is that there will always be something to learn. Keep applying the lessons, refuse to allow others’ definition of what success is be swapped for what you know to be success for you. After all, we are each on our own journey. Even reaching the same peak for one person could have taken years, while for the next climber it could have taken only a few days. Never allow others’ evaluations of what you have done to be your barometer for success. So long as you know you’ve done your best, so long as you refuse to not be stay defeated, you will be successful.

At the heart of living a simply luxurious life is finding the courage within yourself to live life on your own terms. While we all must learn how to interact effectively with each others, communicate and work in such a way to think of the community and society as a whole, when it comes to the decisions we make, we must spend our entire lives with ourselves. TSLL blog, The Simple Sophisticate podcast and the book provide the framework so that you will have a sound foundation and clear direction about how to achieve a life of contentment, but you are the artist, the designer. Your house will look like nobody else’s, and that is the beauty. Enjoy the journey and be brave.

~POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The 8 Pillars of Building a Simply Luxurious Life

~6 Ways to Find Your Authentic Path

~26 Things I Know For Sure

~How to Be the Master of Your Mind

Petit Plaisir

~Romantics Anonymous (2010), French film, subtitles in English

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5 thoughts on “8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life

  1. This was a terrific episode, Shannon. I adore the title and the content was even better. I’ve already re-read it twice. Thank you!

  2. There is a person whose blog I would really like to recommend: Haleigh Walsworth´s blog Making Magique. Haleigh is an american woman living and working in Paris, France. I discovered her blog a while ago and I must say I am completely in awe of it. A wonderful mix of American energy and optimism combined with French bohemian sophistication and appreciation for all things that make life beautiful and happy.

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