My Founders Fatigue MMWU of a few weeks ago not only hit its mark, it pushed some owners to recognize that they have Founder’s Fatigue and inspired them to do something about it. I was glowing as I read one such email from a husband and wife team that own a wildly successful, six million dollar company. They attended a Strategies Incubator prior to opening in 2003 and have grown a model Team-Based Pay company ever since. Their words were inspiring because no matter how successful a company may be, owners and leaders are always susceptible to Founder’s Fatigue.
Their email said, “We were suffering from Founder’s Fatigue and badly needed the shot in the arm we received at your recent Team-Based Pay Conference. We returned reinvigorated and ready to improve our company’s culture. Yes, we have drifted over the past few years … but now we are working hard at getting back on track. It’s amazing how liberating it feels when you finally make the tough decisions and move forward. Almost feels like it did when we first set out on our entrepreneurial journey – only we’re much more profitable. :)”
I’m writing this epilogue on Founder’s Fatigue because I too know what it’s like to experience it. My company, Strategies, is 21 years old. You can’t run your own company for that long without acquiring the occasional case of Founder’s Fatigue. I guess because I spend the better part of my day coaching owners and leaders through all sorts of issues and challenges, I have a heightened awareness to the possible presence of Founder’s Fatigue in my own company. As a coach, my job is to offer everything from leadership insights and problem solving, to talking leaders off the ledge when they find themselves on the verge of losing it. The one constant I have learned is that the cure for Founder’s Fatigue always – and I mean always – begins with a tough decision that has lingered for far too long.
Here are four no-compromise leadership strategies to “reinvigorate” you should you acquire a case of Founder’s Fatigue:
- It’s OK: You are not invincible. You are not a super hero. You are an individual with the vision, desire, tenacity … and just the right amount of craziness … to chase your dream of building your own company. It’s OK if you lose your momentum and drive every now and then. It’s OK that the pressure of leadership occasionally surpasses your tolerance level. It’s OK to step back for a bit to regain your perspective on where you are and where you’re going. It’s OK to take time to focus on yourself so you can better focus on your company.
- Visions are ALWAYS subject to change: I started Strategies in 1993 with a vision to publish a monthly magazine that was all business and no advertising. Strategies magazine was a great project, but after fourteen years and 168 issues, it was time for a new vision for Strategies to move forward as a coaching and training company – not as a magazine publisher. That was a seriously tough decision for me, and I had let it linger for a bit too long … but I finally made the call. My primary passion was always for teaching, speaking and writing about business and leadership. I didn’t need a magazine to do that. What I needed was to make a tough decision – which I did. I was reinvigorated and my company was reinvigorated because its leader got unstuck. If you’re not willing to change or modify your company’s vision when necessary, expect a case of Founder’s Fatigue that can and will spread throughout your entire company. Change is the constant. Visions are not.
- Seize the moment: For the husband and wife team I mentioned above, the moment happened at our Team-Based Pay Conference and again with my Founder’s Fatigue MMWU. They acquired a renewed vision of where to take their company and were given a name for the funk they were feeling. They seized the moment to break out of their Founder’s Fatigue funk. They made that tough decision to implement change and move forward. They recognized that their funk had become the company’s funk, and that it had gotten all over everyone. Had they not seized the moment and stepped into the daylight to see new opportunities, their extraordinary company would have degraded into the realm of the ordinary.
- Work with a mapmaker: It’s hard to plot a destination if you can’t see the map. I coach leaders. Strategies coaches many leaders. In a lot of ways, business coaches are like mapmakers. We help you find the best route to your destination and our job is to get you there safer and faster. I am not attempting to sell coaching here – I am simply making the point that having someone outside of your company that you can talk through your ideas, challenges and objectives with … and that will hold you accountable for those things … is a necessity in business today. Find the right coaching company and team of coaches to guide you and keep you reinvigorated. Maybe it’s Strategies, or maybe it’s some other company or individual out there. What’s important is finding one that fits you and your company. Do that and you’ll have the best deterrent for Founder’s Fatigue.
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