Generals and Entrepreneurs - Thoughts on Your Role

Washington aside his mount Recently I was speaking with a client about his time, energy and focus. We were discussing how thoroughly burned out he and many entrepreneurs are. And for good cause, this guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders. A business partner with cancer, another key employee with a chronic illness, tight cash-flow, the busyness of life, travel, running a staff, and all the rest. He was running on empty. "Ground down to a dull point" is what my mom used to say.

My suggestion was for him to take a day off. Now. Get a massage, see a movie. Tune out. His reply was no surprise: "Well, I can't right now but I will in a couple of weeks". My take on it? He needs his rest NOW in order to lead effectively. Taking a break is not a reward for good behavior but rather a necessity so that he can make solid strategic decisions. "Your company needs you!" I hammered home.

Here's the upshot. There is a reason that the generals of yore slept in tents and rode on horseback. Generals couldn't allow themselves to fatigue. Generals (and business leaders) fill an entirely different role than a foot soldier and no matter how noble it might be to suffer right along with the men, sleep in a foxhole or run yourself ragged; it's irresponsible. If your job is to direct others' efforts right into the line of fire you have to protect yourself, your judgement, and your ability to creatively solve problems or people can be harmed. Get over trying to be "one of the gang" and remember that you have to lead from a position of clarity, perspective and problem solving. Get rested, do what you need to in order to protect yourself, and then be heroic with your judgement - not your time.

Sounded to me like something a few of my clients would benefit from hearing.

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