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Lesson #2: Define Your Priorities and Goals
Every day before Ash went to work, she would make a list of the “Six Most Important Things” to do, and give herself deadlines to finish each. “Over the years, I’ve observed that nearly all high achievers know how to make good of those 1,440 minutes in each day,” said Ash. It is to this end that Ash advises her employees to try and live a balanced life, defining and prioritizing their commitments.
Part of defining her priorities for Ash meant constantly outlining her goals. “We must have a theme, a goal a purpose in our lives,” she said. “If you don’t know where you’re aiming, you don’t have a goal.” Ash believed that without a sense of direction, it would be too easy for one to get lost in the business world, as in life. “An average person with average talents and ambition and average education,” she said, “can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals.”
When Ash first began working as a part-time sales representative for Stanley Home Products in 1938, she struggled to do well at her new job. Not only did she want to impress her bosses, but more importantly she needed to support her family and make ends meet. It was for this reason that Ash started writing weekly sales goals on her bathroom mirror using soap. “A good goal is like a strenuous exercise – it makes you stretch,” said Ash. “Give yourself something to work towards constantly.” Her bathroom mirror goals may have been washable, but they were permanent in her mind and they helped her to organize and define her life.
Once Ash had decided to create Mary Kay Cosmetics, her vision may have changed, but she nonetheless continued to outline her goals: “to provide women with an unparalleled opportunity for financial independence, career and personal fulfillment,” and “to achieve total customer satisfaction by delivering the products and services that enhance a woman's self-image and confidence.” She knew that in defining her goals, she could hold herself more accountable in achieving them.
Ash also understood that, like her, many of her employees were struggling to cope with the new opportunities that entering the workforce afforded to them. Ash wanted her employees to earn their own wages, but not at the cost of their families. “We must figure out how to remain good wives and good mothers while triumphing in the workplace,” said Ash. “This is no easy task for the woman who works full-time. With your priorities in order, press on, and never look back. May all of your dreams come true. You can, indeed, have it all.”
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