Who’s the CEO of Your Life? (6 traps and the ultimate secret to personal power)

“Clearly, every company needs a leader. That’s an important part of being the CEO.” ~Sanjay Kumar (CEO of Computer Associates International)

The CEO is a company’s Chief Executive Officer responsible for developing corporate strategy and culture, providing vision and a sense of mission, team-building, allocating budget and capital concerns and championing a product line.

In other words, the CEO of a corporation is the leader and ultimate decision-maker of the company. It’s the desk at which the buck stops.

But corporations are not the only ones in need of executive officers.

Who is the CEO of Your Life?

Who determines the vision that guides you, the goals that take you there, the standards that govern the goals you set, the tone and tenor of your brand, the personal culture of integrity and character you’re known by, the way you spend your time, energy and resources?

Who, in short, is in charge of your life?

The answer to this question may not be as obvious as you think. See if you can identify who most often operates as your personal chief decision-maker …

Public Opinion as CEO

Those who are led by public opinion have a soft middle, a squishy center, a runny foundation of soft-serve values and a 31 flavored sample of principles upon which they sometimes stand.

They make decisions with one finger in the air checking for the fickle winds of popularity and one scanning the latest public opinion polls. They hesitate when in a bind and defer to others. They lead from within the crowd, absorbing the values of the collective.

If this is you, you follow trends and fads and melt your personal identity into the mushy and shapeless stew of mass opinion.

Peer Pressure as CEO

Similarly, when we become reflections of other people’s will, shadows of their desires, subject to their whims and fancies, we cease being ourselves.

When Peer Pressure is the CEO of your life, you are abdicating a basic responsibility to be self-governing.

Your life is lived as quotation marks wrapped around the parroted words and ideas and opinions of your peer group. Your motto is “Don’t rock the boat” and your anthem is “Their Way.”

Tradition as CEO

Some people do very little thinking about improvement, innovation and experimentation. They are governed by tradition, by the way things have always been. Life is reduced to a treadmill.

But life-by-status-quo is a difficult way to live in a world that constantly changes. When we stand still in the ebb and flow of life as it regularly shifts and reshapes itself, we eventually get left behind, usually in someone else’s wake.

If tradition is your acting CEO, you live by default and think by proxy. You subjugate thought to reflex, wisdom to conditioning, intelligence to convention, choice to predictability and true happiness to the habitually tried and comfortably known.

Fear as CEO

Is fear the primary decision-maker in your life? Does embarrassment send you marching orders? Is timidity the set of rules by which you operate? If so, your internal leader leads from the back of the crowd in the form of a retreat.

Such people start and fall back, begin, then talk themselves out of it. Anxiety is master, priest and marriage partner. Every decision is made softly. A fully operational escape hatch comes standard with each decision you tentatively write on the chalkboard of your heart.

Reasons not to always outweigh reasons to. Excuses justify surrender. Life is therefore lived in park, or reverse, or while looking in the rear-view mirror at a life that might have been.

The Heart and Mind as CEO

The mind is a powerful tool, for sure. But a life of the mind without heart is a sterile intellectual wasteland. While a life of the heart divorced from the mind is often an emotional house of cards.

When major decisions are made solely by reliance on the power of the brain, we become dependent on our own blind spots, weaknesses, and myopic perspectives born of provincial experiences.

Besides, not everything is accurately discernible by the mind. Sometimes, we just have to step into the unknown and perhaps even the unknowable. In those moments, it becomes obvious that we need something more than the limited mind or the liberated heart.

Universal Principle as CEO

But when we center our lives on something higher and limitless, the possibilities also rise to the level of the infinite.

Universal principles transcend culture and circumstance. Just as there are universal principles that govern physics and biology, there are universal moral laws that govern relationships, personal growth and happiness.

I believe the Author of these timeless truths is God. But whether you do or not is irrelevant to their value and reliability. When we comport our lives to universal principle, we put our lives on course to reap their natural product.

Marriages based on principle are marriages where respect and trust are richly infused into the fabric of the relationship. Emotional lives that adhere to principle are steady, upbeat, positive and joyful. Peace and happiness are the hallmarks of those whose lives are based on universal wisdom.

We live in unsteady times. A steady foundation under our feet can therefore help us reach levels of happiness currently unrealized


“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” ~Peter Drucker

Integrity to universal law means we don’t look for the shortcut to the natural process of growth and development. It means we live our lives closely (even if not perfectly) to universal values of human decency and emotional well-being. It means we live in tune with the fundamental principles of happiness.

When principle is followed, the mind is employed when the mind is needed. The heart, when the heart offers the best answer. Fear, when fear is the proper response to danger. Tradition, when tradition is recognized as built on principle and universal truths.

In other words, when universal principles (and the God that authors them) are at the center of our lives, all other things will fall into their correct and most useful places as we stumble through this thing called life experiencing the abundant life we call happiness.

Your Turn …

Have you experienced different types of “CEOs” running your life? Have the wrong CEOs gotten you into difficulty in the past? Who’s running it now? Please share your thoughts below.

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