The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Taking the Long ViewBy: Martina Cheung
In a fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in your ambition; I used to all the time. The success of my current project; how often I was getting promoted — these all seemed like the things that were my primary goals. I guess it’s hard to tell a young ambitious person to take their time, but it would have been great if I had learned sooner that promotions are not the ultimate measure of success.
These days, I'm simply trying to be the best leader that I can be, and I'm dedicated to getting as much exposure to and experience with different skill-sets and leadership styles. I believe this is the way I can best help the company and my career long term.
One of the reasons I have moved to more of a long-term view is because of a good friend’s advice. She told me to “raise my sights,” meaning that I should look around and take in the broader context of what’s happening in the world—now and in the future. Her advice helped me to have more perspective when it came to making career decisions. It also helped me prioritize how I spend my time building relationships and gaining expertise. Now, I think of my career in 2- to 3-year time chunks, and I make a plan of what I want to accomplish in each of those time periods. And all of that planning is designed to help me make progress on my goals of where I see myself 10 or 20 years from now. And that perspective extends beyond just my career goals, but to personal ones, too.
There’s an old joke that says life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I appreciate that, as one of the challenges for every business executive is balancing work and life. But being clear about your priorities can help you actually achieve goals in both areas. Consider whether you will cherish the memory of a one-time career victory in the context of missing a major life event. That may be a no-brainer to you, but also remember that there really is no right or wrong answer to that question—it's a matter of perspective.
“Raise your sights — look around and take in the broader context of what’s happening in the world, now and in the future.”
For me, there are life milestones that are simply more important than the job. But there are other times when I may be able to prioritize my work in such a way that I can still achieve what I need to professionally without missing those key family moments. This perspective and prioritization also allows me to be present and be in the moment. When I have a couple of days off, I try to enjoy each moment, whether it’s a great meal with family and friends, exercising, or relaxing with a book. I know that I can unplug and still be OK because I've prioritized and worked efficiently. Work/life balance, I’ve learned, can be achieved from moment to moment.
I believe that everyone comes to realize at one point or another that time is a precious commodity, so it is important to get the maximum return on your investment. For most people, they think about that in terms of whether they have time to attend a certain meeting, but it also comes into play in how you network. I have found that by curating your network—applying that same level of prioritization to who you spend time connecting with as you do to your to-do list—I've more efficiently cultivated an invaluable group of peers, mentees, and mentors.
I have mentors both inside and outside S&P Global, and I think that’s an important distinction for gleaning different and unique perspectives. It's always important to have independent and frank perspectives from people who have experience outside of your immediate circumstances. It's all part of the philosophy of ‘raising your sights’ and gaining that extra bit of long-view perspective that can help your career and life.