Here’s one way to become a CEO, just print up some business cards that say you’re a CEO. Done. You can go to all the conferences and open bar events with the pride that you have a more impressive title than 97% of everyone there. For some people, that’s enough.
But for the rest of us who aren’t sociopaths and want to be able to look into our own eyes in the mirror without guilt, empty labels are pithy and fleeting.
And to be frank, most people who claim they want to be CEO’s don’t actually want to be a CEO and have never watched one in action nor understand what the job entails. These chief craving individuals do not want the responsibilities of power and leadership, they want to be immune from criticism.
The desire to be the head of a hierarchy is an old human instinct. People still tell kids they can be anything they want, including the president. Who the hell actually wants to be the president? Have you ever actually met an aspiring commander in chief? Me neither, but I have met those with micro-delusions of grandeur, including myself.
At one point I had business cards with the letters CEO printed under my name. It was even more deliciously conceited as I had a forward-slash next to CEO that read “Head consultant.” I was impressed by myself. And maybe a few other people were who read life at face value. But I wasn’t fooling anyone who could actually make that title mean something. Nobody hired my business, AKA me, to help them because my balance sheet only had a fancy made up title as an asset.
I never intended to fleece anyone. I truly thought, and still do, that once one person trusted me with their business I would have worked my ass off and helped them out, thus earning my title. And if life worked like a Hollywood movie, that may have happened. But that is not how to earn business, a title and leadership credentials.
I believe that nobody who calls themselves as a leader should be followed.
To gain trust and esteem requires one thing. Making other people’s lives better. This is as true in sales as it is in kitchens as it is on farms.
The objective is to be worth ten times to other people what you take home. Realistically, you may only be worth one and a half or two times your effort, which is understandable and normal. There’s nothing wrong with being normal except that normal is a pretty boring story to tell.
I do not desire to lead a team or a company. The goals of my past were flights of fancy and excuses to get away with lying to myself. It’s a funny thing about humans, when we don’t know what we want to do we always default to being vaguely important. At least in our own minds. Rockstars, head chefs, actors, politicians. Anything consisting of fame, glory, and riches will do when we’re not even sure what we want to have for dinner that very night.
What we never want to really grok is how to tactically work towards those goals. Usually because this means we have to uncover our source programming, inspect it honestly, and find a flaw that would lead us back to square one.
The sunk cost from years of perpetuated self-lies is a powerful form of resistance. One that many choose to take to their graves than undergoing an honest reboot.
And this is where making an interesting life and story lies. The uncomfortable, cringe-inducing pits where learning can occur. Only from learning can value be proffered and only then can a title be earned.