It's ok to take your armour off - Mark MacLeod

July 29, 2020 - Mark MacLeod

It’s ok to take your armour off

Whenever I watch the Stars Wars movies I always think to myself how uncomfortable it must be to be walking around in head to toe armour. Poor Darth Vader & Kylo Ren, hiding that pouty face of his. And of course, all those faceless, nameless storm troopers. Covered in armour.

That’s the thing with armour. It’s not meant to be comfortable. Why then do so many entrepreneurs in startup land walk around wearing it?

This tweet captures what happens all too often in startupland. Founders walk around telling everyone they are CRUSHING IT. On the inside they are dying.

They are stressed out. Lonely. Overworked. Dealing with massive imposter syndrome. Building the courage to try another hail Mary to get their startup moving up and to the right.

It’s hard enough leading a company of any kind. Let alone one that is trying to create massive enterprise value in a short time frame. Don’t make it harder for yourself by pretending everything is ok. We know it’s not. And that, ironically, is ok. More than ok!

As I often joke: “Startups are like sausages: They taste good. You just don’t want to know how they are made“. Every startup has issues. Even the ones going through hyper-growth.

Armour and human nature

As a species we are great bullshit detectors. This stems from our hard-wired fight or flight survival instincts. We can tell when someone is not being genuine.

Do you really think you are helping your employees by shielding them from the truth? Don’t you think they can sense when things aren’t great? When you’re stressed but trying to hide it?

Far better in my books to be open. To be transparent. Some of the best cultures (and employee retention rates) I have seen have been with companies that practice complete transparency.

What a relief it would be to not have to pretend that things are great, when they are not. Better to have fifty heads trying to get the company on the path to great, rather than carrying it all on your shoulders.

Ditch the armour! It is only weighing you down.

Questions to consider

Am I fully experiencing the feelings and emotions I encounter running my company?

Do I explicitly acknowledge and feel the inevitable highs and lows?

Do I mask or push down the bad feelings? If so, do I believe that these truly just dissapear?

What would happen if I shared more openly with my senior team? With all staff?

What impact would this have on my happiness and productivity? On overall culture and performance?

Photo by Michael Marais on Unsplash

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