“First the life. Then the structure”.
“Mens sana in corpore sano” it’s a latin phrase referring to the importance of having a “healthy mind and a healthy body” to have a life filled with plenitude.
And it wasn’t until now, a year after founding my first startup, that I’ve learned the most important lesson any CEO or founder should know:
The most important skill you have to develop is to manage your own psychology. And also your own emotions and body.
I haven’t come to this idea by myself, I’ve found this article that made me think about my own experience, so I’m not going to bore you with advices and stuff but instead I’m only going to bore you with my own experience.
As a CEO you’ll have to face a lot of battles but without a doubt the most difficult will be against yourself.
It’s normal to think things like “it’s never enough”, “this could be improved”, “people could work harder”, “I’m not skilled enough for the job”…. I mean, after all it’s your job to think forward and always go further.
But even if things are going well it’s really hard for me to see that, to take a moment to celebrate what we’ve accomplished and instead I tend to focus on what could be “improved”.
And by doing that I kept facing anxiety, anguish and a lot other of negative emotions that:
- Those emotions ere passed to my coworkers and partners. And I also believe that as a CEO one of the most important jobs you’ll have to do is to keep people happy and motivated. Unhappy people will do unhappy jobs.
- Those negative emotions were preventing me from seeing things clearly and exploiting my creativity. And, obviously, the second most important job you’ll have to do will be to see things clearly to make decisions about the future of your company and be creative enough to solve problems and improve your solution
So, it took me time to realize that if I was aiming to be a successful CEO and build a great company I needed to work harder on my personal life (I know, it sounded crazy for me as well).
This will be our second year, and therefore, the year I expect us to reach a clear market fit and establish as a solid company (yep, only in two years) so here are the things I’ve decided to work on and this are My 2 cents for any CEO out there trying to build a successful and happy company:
- Build a great team: This should be your first task to tackle. You can only “relax” and take some time to think strategically if you can rely on your team. Find those on your company with natural leadership skills and empower them to be your left and right hand. Only when you know day to day things are moving forward you can focus on “the bigger road”. If you’d like to work on this I can recommend you this book: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best
- Make some friends: It’ll be highly helpful for you if you can share your thoughts with friends, fellows entrepreneurs but also people from different aspects or contexts. Remember that you also need to chill and relax, think about this as taking the car to the mechanical: From time to time you need to stop the engine and let it rest. It has been proved that friends and deep relationships are good for your mind, so go out and enjoy with them.
- Find a life-partner: OMG, no I’m not going to tell you to get married nor anything. This is not a self help post. But when I started my “life as an entrepreneur” I remember meeting with one of the greatest CEOs in Spain and he gave me this advice “How aren’t you with someone? The path it’s going to be long and sometime painful, it’ll be really helpful to have someone that understands you and can be there for you”. At that time I didn’t understood why he was saying that, I thought it was a lost of time, a lost of focus. Well, know I can assure you that having someone you can trust and you can rely and relax will help you a lot through the way. This doesn’t mean you should go now and download Tinder and ask anyone if she or he wants to be your life-partner, but instead (my 2 cents) I’m saying stop losing time on worthless relationships and start aiming to find someone you feel “comfortable” with, and build a relationship that feels “natural”
- Take good care of your body: Last but not least, it’s really important for you to stay healthy and strong. You’ll face many travels, many long meetings, many nights working, many stressing decisions and to do all of that you’ll have to take good care of your body, because you’ll have to rely on “him” to do all of those things. So, start eating well (this can get harder if you keep traveling and eating out for meetings) but at least you should try to have a balanced diet. And do sports, anything you like: Just running, biking, swimming, tennis, etc. But do something, keep moving and help your body help you.
- Write. A lot: Writing has many good effects but I’m focusing on my 2 favorites here: The first one is that writing will help you on clarifying your ideas, because when you’re thinking you can get lost, but when you’re writing you’ll have to follow a line. And the second one is writing to share, I’ve found the power of sharing to be amazing, because again: It will train you to communicate clearly and make you receive a lot of feedback, the good one and the bad one. And you should really listen to that feedback.
No more to say. Just one thing: Being a CEO it’s one of the greatest challenges I’ll have to face but it’s also one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve always had. So go out there and enjoy the ride.