Growing up in my career, I had been taught to separate business from the rest of my life. The phrase “don’t take it personally; it’s just business” is something I know many of us have heard. As my career has developed from working at large companies, to getting a sense of ownership working for private equity-backed firms, to owning and running Signature Leaders, I have started to rethink this phrase.
Can we really separate business from the rest of our lives?
Throughout my various roles, I have interviewed many CEOs and I can’t think of one that didn’t think about his or her company almost 24/7. They eat, sleep, and live it every day because successful companies are run by CEOs who are passionate about the company’s ability to make an impact on the world.
We are at a point in business where our work and our lives can no longer be “balanced” in the previous sense of “work-life balance.” They must flex with us as we go through trying times at work and at home. And we need to understand that it’s ok to spend a lot of time working or thinking about work if we truly enjoy it. This is one area where I think female leaders have an advantage. Maybe it is due to how our brains are wired, or due to our natural instinct to nurture, but female leaders tend to put so much of themselves into their roles, that wins feel incredible but losses can feel like personal loss.
I recently interviewed Ann Fandozzi, CEO of ABRA Auto. I often hear from leaders that it can be lonely at the top or that they feel more vulnerable in the C-suite, so I asked her if she felt more vulnerable in her role as CEO than she had before. Her answer (in the video clip below) turns the question around. Her passion for ABRA shines through as she tells us why, for her, it is personal. As a CEO for a large company, she knows that her decisions impact the lives of many people but she embraces that challenge because she loves her job.
For each of us, if we can find a role, company, or cause that we are passionate about, we will make it personal. And that will make our businesses thrive.