How Cliche

Submitted by christian on Tue, 08/07/2012 - 13:53

I'd like to start off by saying that you should do as I say, not as I do. While I firmly stand behind what I am about to say, I find it to be much easier said than done. I assume that's because I'm such an amazing natural leader that I can't even follow my own advice. You're free to draw your own conclusions, though.

Somewhere north of 70% of all entrepreneurial endeavors eventually fail. Yet for whatever reason, the lure continues to draw us in like hapless fish to a shiny hook. I think that, beneath all of the rhetoric about community and all of the talk about making something better, it really comes down to two basic things, ego and control. We all have one and we all want the other.

Ego is a funny thing. Even if we don't outwardly express it, almost everybody on some level believes they can do things better than the person currently doing them. Yet at the very same time they believe that nobody really understands how hard it is to do what they themselves are doing. Sure, there's no I in team but every great team needs a coach, right? And who better than [your name here], right?

On some level, though, we know we can't do everything ourselves. Sure we could if there were 9 of us, but sadly, there is only one. You need to think inside the box. By that I mean create well defined roles for people with actual authority and ensure people stay within them. Everybody should have a say but somebody needs to have the final say. This is true for individual areas of expertise as well as for the whole. It's best if the person with the power is knowledgeable in the specific area being discussed, but beggars can't always be choosers. After all, it's better to make the wrong decision than no decision at all.

So there's the rub. People need to accept control in one area for a lack of control in another. We need to understand that, when buried in what we do, we can rarely see the forest for the trees. It is a conflict with the entrepreneurial spirit wherein we constantly strive to be in control of our destiny. In a way, though, it allows us to be great at our role instead of mediocre (or, more likely, terrible) at all of the roles. As long as everybody agrees on the goal we can all do our part to get there without having to bear the weight of the whole.

So take it all one step at a time. Together, we are more than the sum of our parts. There is a time to lead, a time to follow, and a time to get out of the way. But then again, what do I know. I'm too young to have the breadth of experience of those who have inspired me yet just a little too old to know everything anymore.