What are your Big Five For Life?

Have you ever had the experience of suddenly having a new insight into something? 

It could be during a heated conversation when you suddenly understand where the other person is coming from (and why they’re mad…) or sometimes you can ‘have the lights turned on’ when you’re listening to a particularly talented speaker.

It only took 15 pages into The Big Five for Life by John Strelecky for me to hit on a new way of looking at something.  This is a book that’s billed as a story about the greatest business leader to ever live and the ‘secret’ to his success.  It’s not a typical business book by any stretch, but there are a lot of ideas that a business owner could use to increase their success.

One of the things that I love about what I’m doing now is that I need to read a lot of books, specifically business books. 

  • Many of them are extremely insightful and about as much fun to read as a statistics textbook. 
  • Many of them are painful to read and not very insightful.
  • A very few of them are both enjoyable to read and leave you with great ideas.

The Big Five For Life belongs in that last category – read on to find out why!

Leadership Versus Management

There are literally hundreds of books on leadership and on management and probably a few hundred more on either the combination of the two traits or the differences between them. 

My definition:  Leadership is about the ability to inspire others towards a goal or a vision, while management is about the skills to make sure that goal or vision can be reached.

So with that in mind, a major part of leadership is being able to develop, communicate and inspire people with a vision – or a Purpose For Existence, which is one of the key points out of this book. 

Every business should have a clearly defined, simple Purpose for Existence (PFE) and if that business wants to be successful, then it should ONLY employ people that share that Purpose for Existence in their own life.

It’s not a new or unique idea, but it’s also one that’s not commonly practiced.  The author makes a very compelling business case for why it’s important and how it can drive profits and growth up by 20% or more (statistics and good ideas…!).

Other key insights

There are probably a dozen key things I took away from this book – some of them reinforcing things that I already believed (but stating them in a new and different way) and some of them really challenging my experience with how things are done – especially in the corporate world.

As an example, you don’t have to look very hard to find someone that will agree that their company’s success is due to the people that work at that company, but how many business leaders actually develop a culture that rewards and enables those employees to achieve their own life goals?  (The Big Five for Life are the Five things that would make your life complete).

Imagine a company where:

  • The employees love to work there
  • They believe in what the company is doing and buy into the bigger picture (PFE)
  • The company leadership incorporates the employees into solutions
  • The company purposefully helps employees achieve their personal goals

What kind of productivity can you get from people that love what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with?  How much harder do you work on a pet project or hobby at home than you would for just a mundane work effort?  How much likely are you to stay on with that company in the long run?  It’s not about making people happy, but about the bottom line – about profits!

How would you go about creating that kind of company?

There are also some great ideas on increasing profitability, how to determine if it’s worthwhile to invest money in certain projects, ideas on how to grow your business beyond the initial business – the story narrative makes it easy to demonstrate a lot of these ideas in more of a real world setting.

Downside to the book?

As you can tell, I got a lot of positive things out of the book, but I did come away with sort of a wistful feeling that it wasn’t about the real world.  Although there obviously are excellent companies out there, there are unfortunately not very many of them that could really create what’s described here.  In other words, actually putting all of these ideas to work seems like it would require the World’s Greatest Business Leader to pull it off.

Having said that, if you could get inspired and use even a couple of these ideas, you would be well ahead of the majority of businesses out there.

What was the insight I had on page 15?

It’s an early discussion the primary character has with the business leader on why it’s important to not only do what you want to be doing, but to be doing it NOW (not some later point).

The average person lives 28,200 days (about 77 years).  

Imagine a history museum of your life, your 28,200 days with a display for every day of your life.  Would your museum show you doing things that were meaningful to you, things that you enjoyed and loved…or would 80% of your museum show you being miserable at work, hitting your head against the wall, generally hating life?

Powerful thought – isn’t it?

It was that clarification of the sense of urgency that we all feel at some point that made me stop reading and go ‘whoa’…!

Check this book out and share your comments here – I’d love to hear your thoughts about this and have someone to discuss it with.

Shawn Kinkade  www.aspirekc.com

6 thoughts on “What are your Big Five For Life?”

  1. Tim Brownson says:

    Shawn, I have to agree with you, BFFL is a great book and deserves to cross over from the business section to the mainstream.

  2. Tim,

    Thanks for the comment – by the way, I really enjoy your blog and I guess I need to check out your book sometime. If you’re interested in Tim’s book you can find it at Don’t Ask Stupid Questions


  3. Tim Brownson says:

    E-mail me to tim at adaringadventure .com and I’ll send you a PDF version Shawn.

  4. Tim Brownson says:

    Had a mobileme disaster Shawn and lost all my e-mails. Shoot me yours again can you please and I’ll send the book.

    Never thought you were angling, no worries at all 😉

  5. Martin Moser says:

    Hi Shaw,

    a very good description of the book. I fully agree with you, that it would require the world’s greates business leader to do all the changes at once.
    However there are already also small steps, that we can take today.
    In addition, in Germany and Switzerland, we have started with workshops on these topics: Big Five for Companies and the feedback from entrepreneurs is just amazing.

    All the best, Martin

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