By Jilliene Helman
When I say that five of my parents’ seven children went on to lead businesses, people are often shocked. But, to me, it’s not a surprise at all. My parents raised me to believe I would be a leader the same way many children grow up expecting to get married and have children. My mother and father, entrepreneurs themselves, also imparted several lessons that gave us the tools to get there.
If you are hoping to become a CEO, or a leader in any endeavor, I think you might benefit from hearing these lessons my family taught my siblings and me when we were growing up.
A key component of success as an entrepreneur is a strong work ethic. We tend to see life as a CEO as glamorous, filled with dazzling office suites, star-studded parties and yacht outings. But what you won’t see unless you work with one of these people, is that they tend to be the first ones into the office every morning, and the last ones to turn off their computer and their brain at night.
My parents taught us that the best way to develop a strong work ethic is to start working as soon as you are able. When you’re young, this almost certainly means taking menial and often boring jobs — serving food, moving furniture, or working in a retail store, for example.
Even if you don’t want or need to start working at a low-paying, entry-level job, you will be doing your future self a great service by taking one of these jobs. Every day you work in any job is another day you are strengthening those “work muscles” that you will need if you hope to rise to a position of leadership.
Love What You Do
For a long time growing up I couldn’t understand how I could learn to love work — unless I could find a job doing something I already loved. It always seemed to me that work was something you had to do. Otherwise, why would they have to pay you to show up?
But then I realized how any of us can find something to love in anything we do. I started to view my jobs in a larger context, how I was part of a team contributing something to our community of customers or to society in general.
As a bank vice president, for example, I wasn’t just working for a bank. I was helping protect and grow wealth for clients so they could enjoy the fruits of their hard work.
And when I co-founded the real estate crowdfunding site RealtyMogul, I wasn’t just a CEO. I was someone helping individuals gain access for the first time to real estate deals once accessible only to the wealthiest of clients.
You can always connect what you are doing to a larger purpose, and that purpose can help you learn to love what you do. And of course, when you love what you do, you will become better at it, and you will shine — which will ultimately set your course to a leadership role.
Lead with Intention
I was lucky enough to be taught from a young age to be a leader in everything that I did.
My mother and father did not mean taking control of every situation. They meant leading by example, sharing credit, being inclusive rather than exclusive, showing integrity in everything we did, persisting through challenges and setbacks, and getting right back up every time we fell.
Leadership, my parents explained, is not about ordering people around. True leadership is about how you live every minute of your life — working hard, being positive, staying close to your family and friends, learning new things, bringing humility to every situation, and persuading people — never forcing or coercing them — to your side.