It’s All Your Fault

I think it’s funny when I talk to an entrepreneur and they complain about their company. They complain about their board, their strategy, their team, the fact that the business isn’t working. They complain about the people that let them down, the things that didn’t go as planned, the late launches, the expensive lunches — everything under the sun.

This is perfectly natural. It’s human. I used to do it all the time.

Until I realized I had it exactly wrong. One wonderful day it dawns on you:

It’s all your fault.

You are responsible for everyone and everything. Whatever went wrong is actually your fault. That employee who’s not leading people? They work for you. That strategy that failed? You presided over it. The company isn’t working? You created it. That board member you don’t like? You raised capital from him.

If you are a real leader, every single thing is your fault. If you are a founding CEO, the really tough (and beautiful) thing is you can’t even do what politicians and professional CEO’s do and blame the last guy.

The bad news for any leader who adopts this philosophy is that it is a psychologically-crippling and never-ending exercise: to take on every problem at the company as your own. As the organization scales, it’s a staggering emotional burden to bear.

Unless it’s not. Unless you can learn to make it personal without taking it personally. Unless you can learn to view your historical self with real objectivity. Maybe then it’s the secret to realizing that there is no problem you can’t solve. Maybe then the realization that it’s all your fault will set you free.

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