The Big Five For Life
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
The other night I started reading a book by John Strelecky called The Big Five For Life. I came across it because I had heard that he may be speaking at one of the next big events of my company. I googled him, found the book and bought it there and then in its digital version.
That same night I read 15 chapters of the book. In the opening introduction John writes:
This book will inspire you. It will change your life in ways you can’t know now, but you’ll understand completely once you’re done reading it.
The book is actually a piece of fiction. So unlike most ‘self-help, management or leadership books, The Big Five For Life is written like a novel. The story teller shares with us his friendship with a man called Thomas Derale, whom he calls the greatest leader in the world. John Strelecky says:
At every given moment we are all called to be leaders. If for no other purpose than to lead ourselves. After all, someone has to inspire you to get out of bed each day. And that someone, is you.
I was hooked from page one!
Now, it’s a great book. It’s a great story and it contains a lot of really amazing insights and tips for anyone who wants to be a leader – whether in their own life, in a business, community or team.
But what really grabbed me was that, as I was reading, I realised that all those principles for success, written in this little book are exactly how my chosen company operates.
I could literally see our founder sitting there, reading this book and saying: “This is the way I will build my business.“ Like Thomas Derale, our founder is a visionary, a man true to his values and with a strong desire to do business differently. To create an organisation where everybody can win, and where nobody wins on their own.
This made me feel incredibly excited and inspired. As I was reading it I actually got goose bumps. I realised that while the principles shared in the book are available to anybody and can be used by everyone, the fact that me and my team are already working within a structure that is set up to those principles, is unique and powerful.
There are two main principles in the book.
Purpose for Existence or short PFE This is about the purpose and values a person or organisation holds. When there is a match between an organisation's PFE and a person’s PFE really big things can happen. There is alignment. Everybody moves in the same direction, pulls on the same rope, aspires to the same values.
The Big Five For Life Those are 5 things an individual really wants to create or achieve in their lives. It comes from the Big Five of Safaris. Apparently there a five big animals every Safari traveller wants to see. If you see three of them, it’s an okay Safari, at four it’s a pretty good safari. But if you see all five it’s an amazing Safari. Now think of the Big Five that would make the journey of your life an amazing Safari. Some of those things might not even have an end. Like for example one of mine is Health. That’s not a result I achieve once and then I can sit back and stop there. No, it’s a life-long commitment.
Anyway, I don’t want to give too much of the book away – just read it yourself – Right now I want to talk a bit more about how this is exactly how the company I work with operates.
Our founder has a very strong personal PFE, which aligns with the PFE of the company he created. This is expressed through the company’s philosophy and mission statement.
Whether it’s someone who gets hired or joins the business as a partner, they really need to align with the PFE. If there is a match, then it will be a win win for both the individual and the company. If there isn’t, then they probably won’t get hired or if they joined as a partner, they won’t stick around for long.
Within the company everybody is equally important and everybody has the chance to create their Big Five through the work they do with the company. It’s a partnership, rather than an employee hierarchy.
The company respects and encourages everybody to have their Big Five. In fact, the clearer the Big Five, the clearer a person’s ‘why’ is. I mean: what was it that made them join the company. We even have in-house trainings on this topic.
If the company succeeds, it’s good for the individual, and if the individual succeeds it’s good for the company. It’s a win-win.
Because working with the company comes out of the PFE and Big Five, it’s actually an enjoyable journey. We love doing what we’re doing, because it resonates with our values and dreams. That’s completely different from working for a company just to earn a living, when we don’t really care about what the company stands for.
I’ve read many other leadership and organisational books in my lifetime.
And these principles described above are the closest to Peter Senge’s (author of The Fifth Discipline) idea of a learning organisation.
Above all there is a common vision and this leads to an ever changing organisation that learns as the need arises to always create the best outcomes possible. I’m really hugely excited to work with such a business.
I’m also hugely excited to learn from John Strelecky. And I really do hope that I get to see him live in one of our big events.