As an entrepreneur, it sometimes feels like everyone else is crushing it while you’re experiencing ups and downs. It can feel like you have to puff your chest out to keep up the perception of momentum, no matter what kind of crap you’re dealing with in reality.
I did this for 10 years, and while there were upsides, there was a definite cost, too.
Jerry Colonna, executive coach and author of the amazing business book Reboot, did an interview this week (link) in which he shared this related gem:
Quote/ “So when I stand up as a CEO of a startup and I say we're crushing it, everything is great, what I'm doing is I’m making it actually psychologically unsafe for the people that work with me to take the necessary risks to innovate because they all know they're not crushing it. No-one’s crushing it. No-one is getting it right every single moment of every single day. Life is a roller coaster. We emotionally ride up and down, up and down, up and down. And when we pretend otherwise we make it really really difficult for someone who's struggling with their roller coaster. Because then the story they tell themselves is that ‘I feel bad so I must be broken.’ And here's a truth: you're not broken, you're just human and that's the glory and the mess of being human.” /End
I experienced this first hand. For nearly 10 years I was always Crushing It to everyone I came into contact with (I thought this was important to recruiting and raising money), and over time my team innovated less. If our team was crushing it so much, well then they couldn’t afford to risk failure because they’d be seen as incompetent. In this way it became more important for people to be seen as competent than to take risks, innovate and improve.
There is a time and place for presentation, but there’s a cost to all that crushing it, too. It can actually lead you to perform worse.
After all, you can’t look good and get better at the same time.
From Second Mountain Startup, the weekly newsletter for founders who want more than just success.