Entrepreneurship and business requires growth. In leadership, self-awareness, and revenue. There are peaks and valleys and opportunities to learn, improve, and change in business (same hold trues for life). The methods for every business varies, with some lessons and experiences being harder than others, and some not always resulting how we want, but always learning and therefore, making progress.

Over the years, I find that there’s so much overlap in life and work. And not just because of this focus on work+life integration, but because people – at the core of it all – are trying to navigate various situations in their personal and professional lives. This includes the basics of relationship-building, establishing standards/guidelines, and operating with integrity. There’s so much overlap and I’ve always said that I learned a lot about business from one of my mentors, but I also learned a lot about how she lived life and applied some basics to living a good one.

Last quarter I did a little non-scientific experiment with some pre-professionals, colleagues and friends. The idea definitely came from observing patterns and habits, including some of my own. In doing this experiment, it was interesting to see how personal and professional aspects of life are so interconnected.

So what does this all have to do with pros, cons, patterns and someone you love?

When it comes to providing advice around decision-making, I’m quick to recommend a pros and cons list. Actually, I have a few “go to” methods, tools, and suggestions for figuring things out when you’re not sure what to do. In rank order:
1) Prayer. (Laugh if you want, it works.)
2) Meditation. (Keep laughing, I’m being serious.)
3) Notebook for journaling and pros/cons lists. When there’s no notebook, a napkin will do. Are you trying to get your life or not?

So, these aren’t the only tools, but they’re easy, free, and can be enlisted immediately. Oh, and they work. I’ll spare you the, “If I can do it, you can do it” bit – but I, along with clients, have found success utilizing these super simple tools. (And some expensive ones, as well – but that’s for another day.)

OK, now back to the list. A pros and cons list allows people to spend some time thinking. (Some people don’t carve out enough time to just think!) By going through a pros and cons exercise, they get to spend time with themselves and think about the benefits/consequences, the good and the bad around decisions, situations, or better self-awareness.

Here are the steps:
A) Your Professional Pros & Cons. Make a list of your professional pros and cons. What do you believe you are you good at doing? What skills are positive ones that you possess? Where do you have areas of opportunities? (Also referred to as ‘weaknesses’ but we try to keep it positive around here.)

B) Your Mom’s Pros & Cons…About You. OK, now this is where you have to do an interview with your husband/wife/significant other or your mom/dad/guardian or anyone who knows you well enough to see some of habits, patterns, and skills. Your personal ones. You need someone who will be honest with you and someone who has seen your range. Meaning: Someone who has seen you have a meltdown. You can ask them to simply fill out the list or ask them to share with you directly.

C) Compare the Lists. What’d you find? Where are there overlaps?

Now when I did this experiment, things turned out as I expected. The skillsets that people had observed that they were good at professionally or needed work, were also observed personally by their loved ones

Things like: “Great at meeting deadlines” on the Pros list, were co-signed by spouses and parents with: “Never late.” Or on the cons list: “Often try to solve problems on my own instead of with my team,” were co-signed by loved ones with: “Doesn’t ask questions and makes assumptions.”

Now the big takeaway here is not the “a ha!” of overlap and how you should listen to your mother. But the portion where you have to own your parts of your own success.

If your mom, whom we will assume has loved you longer and more than anyone on the planet, has pointed out your cons and you have not changed them? How will you show up for yourself in your professional life? What does that look like?

Let us know if you decide to do this little experiment and what you find out! (You can always ignore the cons list and get a boost by soaking up your pros!)

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