The different ways of being a CEO

"When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, explaining and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer. In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called, “licking the earth.”

There are different ways of being a CEO.

‘Licking the earth’ is one of them: a relentless, depleting pursuit of avoiding risk, getting by, and surviving.

There are other ways, but an entirely different orientation is required.

To who you are. To what matters to you. To how your vocation shapes your broader life. To what you aspire to. To how you show up to the people around you.

Interestingly, that change in orientation is not hard-won. It’s right in front of you with clear best practices, and easy-to-apply tools shaped by new and fresh ways of thinking.

But the change of direction is all on you. It’s a choice. If you become open to it, these changes will happen naturally, organically, and joyfully.

A great CEO balances performance and humanity. Many CEOs neglect the latter, particularly their own humanity.

If the balance between performance and humanity is something you find yourself grappling with as a CEO, I would be interested in discussing this further with you. Please feel free to contact me.

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My weekly missive, CEO Sundays, is published at 5pm every Sunday evening. The writings cover CEO topics exclusively: how-to’s; thought starters; leadership insights; reflection opportunities; research.

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