Inc. magazine printed one of the shortest articles I have ever seen in its November 2011 issue. It consists of a quote from a struggling entrepreneur named Tara Hunt, and here it is in its entirety:
“If nobody shares they are struggling, nobody will know anybody else is struggling. That results in a bunch of people feeling isolated and scared and like big, fat losers.” – http://www.inc.com/magazine/201111/stop-feeling-like-a-big-fat-loser.html
This is full of nuanced implications, but the plea seems to be that all entrepreneurs, business leaders and CEOs should tell each other that they’re struggling.
DO NOT BUY THAT ARGUMENT!
Tara is right that most CEOs feel isolated. Almost every CEO I’ve ever talked to has doubts. Some seriously question what they should do next. And ALL of them think they’re the only ones in such sorry shape.
There! The secret is out! Entrepreneurs and CEOs do not have god-like wisdom. But that does not mean you should be admitting your foibles to every other CEO you meet. Your goal should be to take some of the pressure off of yourself, not to make everyone else feel good (or less bad) about themselves.
As I’m sure you are well aware, the real source of the problem Tara is referring to is that as the leader of your company you typically have no one to share your problems with. You certainly can’t express your doubts to employees, customers, vendors, competitors, or any potential buyer of the company, or with anyone who might be in a position to influence any of those people. And often you don’t want to share with family members. So where do you turn?
The answer is to establish a relationship with some trusted advisors. There are many ways to do that. You can see a psychologist or a hire business coach, create an inner circle of people you can trust, or join a group of CEOs sponsored by one of the many CEO membership organizations. Of course, as a lawyer, I believe that one of your trusted advisors should be a lawyer who knows business, and in particular, what it’s like to be a CEO.
So go ahead, unload your problems on someone. You deserve personal attention! (Just do it in confidence.)
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