We’ve had an all-access pass over the past few years to watching young CEO’s make horrifying blunders in light of the high-leaning success of their organizations. Extremely high IPO’s, sky-rocketing margins, and trajectories that put these individuals on track to being an industry leader, and yet shortly after these incredible journies that lead them to success by the standard of your average opinion, something happens. Something very strange that seems consistent across industries and company backgrounds — a little thing I like to call burnout.
The Trudge of the Visionary
The journey of the young visionary is not an easy one. It’s littered with plenty of loneliness through the highs and lows of trying to become self-aware, learning to lead peers, working yourself out of job position after job position, and attempting to balance the ever-present P&L sheet each month.
Yet many young visionaries strive on. They see some kind of individualized and ideal future. The why behind that seems mystifying to some of us, but to them, it doesn’t matter. They see the future. They see what lies ahead, and the potential of their hard work. They see a utopia at the end of their vision, always strive for the goal of, “I’ll be closer if I can just…”
It’s like watching a Border Collie run back and forth from the group of sheep they’re trying to wrangle, back and forth from sprinting ahead to get the group they’ve inspired to catch sight of their new idea, to coming back to the reality that not everyone truly understands what only they can see.
The reality is that having vision requires a high level of perseverance and foresight to know that what you see, what you have inside of you will only come to light through your willingness to stick with it and continue communicating.
Maturing in Start-Up Mentality
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “Solitude is enjoyed only when one is at peace with oneself.” I find that fascinating. I think you would be hard-pressed to find an individual in their 20’s that is at peace with most things let alone themselves.
It’s a commonly held theory that your personality as a whole comes to fruition at the round age of 30. That you become self-aware and have experienced enough life to fully operate in a mature capacity because of the experience that comes only through living.
Think back to your own 20’s. You likely have many areas of life that you look back on, scratching your head and asking, “I did WHAT?!” That’s very common, but we all need that time to grow. We all need that time to experiment with life, trying to throw together the ideal collection of what makes us healthiest and what is going to help us achieve the goals we see ahead of us.
I get it, I’m ranting.
My point with this is really simple — I would position that many of today’s young tech leaders are having so many struggles with making good decisions that perpetuate their careers because they are spending sleepless nights, overworking, under the inexplicable high intensity of running a vast startup empire and under-nourishing the deepest parts of their psyche.
Sleep, rest, community, and health all provide us with the perfect concoction of what our minds need to fully develop. Lack of rest, isolation and living in s constant state of striving plague our young CEO’s with environments that can only starve the mind and put them in a state of utter despair.
I have an algorithm that I use to explain my perception of leaving a legacy.
Your Legacy = Your Character * (Your Achievements + Your Impact)
At the end of the day, you are only leaving the achievements and impact that you want when addressed right up next to your character. You can accomplish a lot, but when multiplied by the way people felt when working with you, how they talked about you when you weren’t in the room, how you made them feel — it all decides your legacy.
We can all point to men and women that have accomplished great things, but those things will be forgotten because they left people with a sense that they weren’t good enough, valued or important.
You develop your character in health, times of quiet solitude, and times of developing community. You don’t just become a person of character.
How This Makes Sense
I get it. Some of you agree while some of you are already gone — maybe you already exited the article.
The reality is that many of these young leaders are living at a volume and level of expectation, that while honorable to carry at a young age is hindering them from maturing and becoming the leaders they are truly able to become.
It’s holding them from overcoming character flaws that will become moral failures.
It’s exposing them to an intensity that can only deepen the emotional exasperation they are feeling, and push them towards the edge.
What’s the Solution
The reality is that many of us can do nothing. — I know, how optimistic of me.
There needs to be a continued push from the young generation to serve our world with what they have to offer. I think it is young start-up owners in their 20’s and 30’s that will be the change that we need in the world.
This has to be done carefully though, so here are a few thoughts.
As a young leader, it is your job to make sure you nourish your psyche with time away from work, time resting, getting wisdom from mentors and correction from community and peers, and overall working on growing yourself. It’s great that you have so much inside of you for the world, but like a racecar with the wheels only half-fastened on you will lose control. If you don’t take the time to work on yourself, you will have a mind-blowing and very public failure that only comes from bad decisions birthed in a lack of development.
As an older CEO or leader, it’s time for you to step up. Take a young leader under your wing. I can speak from my experience that the only reason I have grown at the capacity I have is from leaders in my life speaking with the guidance that only maturity can bring. We need you to step up and consciously bring awareness to our strengths and our weaknesses.
As a bystander, well let’s be honest — can we cut these young leaders a break? Instead of us SOAKING UP the latest blunder in the news and publicly shaming them, can we extend grace — fully knowing that we made many failures when we were young? If you had the same access to money, publicity and power, think of how bad you would have been.
It’s Simple, Really
With this thought in front of you, perhaps you are the young start-up or business owner that is striving to get the next amount in funding, the next sales goal, or to get your idea to the public. I encourage you to find your rhythms that create health, find time in solitude, allow your self to grow outside of work, and for the love of Christ stop carrying so much pressure.
I don’t care if your board is against you, your team is leaving you, or if your personal life is falling apart — you have time to fix this. Give yourself time to grow and mature and watch your company grow as a result.
The health and success of a company is directly correlated to the health and delegation of its leader.