Why do we do it?

Why do we want to be leaders? What pushes us to start our own companies? We must be crazy to subject ourselves to the intense stress and strain of leading others and betting everything on an idea when the odds of success are against us. But we do it. We throw ourselves into our ideas and charge forward. We knowingly write business plans that rarely, if ever, play out according to plan. We get on our soapboxes and relentlessly pontificate our vision to all who will listen. We find followers to lead. We build and launch. We work insane hours. We routinely confront our worst fears during what I call “owner’s nights,” which usually occur between 2 and 4 a.m. Yup, we sure are crazy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m writing this MMWU from London. It’s a beautiful sunny morning as I sit in the library lounge overlooking the Thames. I occasionally glance through the window at Westminster Bridge, the Parliament and Big Ben. I flew here on short notice to meet with decision makers on a project we’ve been working on for a number of months. The project was stuck and I came here to help unstick it. I usually don’t fly across oceans for meetings, but this project has amazing potential for all parties. I did it because I’m a leader, and more importantly, I am an entrepreneur. I’m wired to do things like this. It’s been a very good trip.

So why do we do what we do? Here are some no-compromise reasons that actually may justify how crazy we are:

  • We just have to: There is something about bringing an idea to life that is impossible to resist. We see it, feel it and just have to build it. It may be a company, a product or a service. It doesn’t matter what it is, we just have to bring it to life. It’s actually painful when we try to resist it. And while our friends and trusted advisors try to talk us out of it by pointing out the flaws and risks, we’re digging in our heels and getting more determined. It’s how we are.
  • We see ourselves as leaders: Leadership is our calling. It doesn’t mean we’re any good at it, it just means that we seek and desire to lead others. We can’t bring our ideas to life alone. We need to surround ourselves with specialized skills and abilities to give our ideas life. Deep down inside, we believe we have what it takes to be a great leader. Reality points out where we need to improve. When we work hard at eliminating our leadership imperfections, we grow as leaders. When we ignore our imperfections and avoid looking in the mirror at our own thinking and behavior, we lose the trust of those we lead – and often watch our ideas go down in flames. Seeing yourself as a great leader gets you into the game. Working at becoming a great leader keeps you there.
  • We see what others don’t: The annoying thing about being a leader is that we see everything – and I mean everything. We see the opportunities that others don’t. We see the flaws that others don’t. We see problems before they become problems. We see the potential in others. We see others waste the opportunity to achieve their full potential. We see the best in people. We see the worst in people. What we see is both a blessing and a curse. But, as leaders, we have to see it all. It’s our job. You can’t lead with your eyes closed.
  • We thrive on it: We may be cautious and focused on every detail, or we may be impulsive and impatient to charge forward, but truth be told, we thrive on risk. We thrive on the game of business. We are innovators, crusaders and competitors who like to win. When we’re beaten down, we get back up and continue to fight. When we lose, we beat ourselves up – and still rise up to fight another day. It’s who we are.

I’m here in London because I had to come here. Nothing may come of my meetings, or great things may come. Question: What do you need to be doing right now to take your company to the next level? When are you going to do it? No compromise.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


1 Response to “Why do we do it?”

  1. October 24, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Neal.you are amazing.you hit the nail on the head.thank you you for your uplifting messages.good luck in london

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