Stupiphanies: Lessons for leaders
Ian Lurie Jan 11 2013
Every now and then I have these epiphanies so blindingly obvious that, when I point them out, people look at me like I’m a hapless dolt.
I call these ‘stupiphanies.’ Most of mine relate to leadership, either as a parent or a CEO. A few I’ve had in the last month are particularly worth sharing:
Stupiphany 1: Taking care of yourself is part of your job
I’ve been working absurdly hard for about two months now: My daily schedule started at 5:30 AM and generally ended at 9:30 PM, with little or no break or pause, except on weekends, when I’d collapse in a stupor. I also logged roughly 30,000 miles in air travel in 6 weeks. I’m sure travel veterans pish posh such tiny numbers, but for me, that’s a lot.
If you’re a CEO or President or Dad or whatever, you may think that by working more, you’re doing more of your job.
Untrue. Part of every leader’s job is to remain upright when necessary, prone when healthy and sane at all times.
If you don’t, your body and mind have a funny way of saying, “Cut the crap, idiot.”
For me, this moment came Tuesday, in an indoor cycling training class I do. The coach put up a course for us to ride on our CompuTrainers and said “go.” If you know cyclists, you know that where there is more than one, it’s a race. Three of us launched into a testosterone-fueled slapfight. I, as the slowest, had to pedal my brains out to keep up.
At the end of the class, I blinked away the stars and spots and I climbed off my bike.
Crack, said some part of my anatomy below my knees.
What the hell was that, I wondered?
I’m your ankle, dumbass
My ankle didn’t actually say that, of course. Instead, it sent little needles up and down my right leg.
Verdict? Dunno. Something strained/sprained/split in a way I’ve never done before, for no particular reason.
Basically, my body said Enough, Ian. You want to go non-stop for weeks? Fine. But you’ll do it with a pronounced limp.
Thanks to my stupidity, I’m now missing our most excellent snow fort building competition tomorrow. I can’t lead my troops into brave and slushy battle, then hide behind them while giggling madly. Fail.
Taking care of yourself is part of your job. Do it. Otherwise your body will make you.
Stupiphany 2: You’re not everyone else
I’m hyper-competitive. So are most folks who run companies, I’m sure. So I tend to work harder when I feel colleagues do the same.
Don’t do it. You’ll hear about lots of other folks who apparently work incredible hours, or otherwise do amazing things by stretching their limits. I’m here to tell you, there’s always a ‘but.’
Steve Jobs worked constantly to build up Apple and Pixar. But he died tragically at a young age and alienated many around him.
Lance Armstrong won more Tours de France than anyone else in history. But it turns out he cheated the entire time.
Another marketer you know spends 3 days a week at conferences, 2 days creating incredible books and still has time for her family. But she also has $10m in venture funding and no clients.
You are not everyone else. Be very, very careful about using comparisons to drive yourself forward.
Stupiphany 3: Those around you learn from you
My kids will learn their behavior from me. Shudder.
I don’t ignore my family. I pick up kids from activities, teach them to play Dungeons & Dragons, have ‘the talk’ with them (they flee if they can) and generally make a pest of myself.
But, if all they see is me working, then being home with them, and never taking a moment for myself, what does that teach them? Nothing good, because I’m ignoring the first two lessons.
On the corporate blog?
Why am I publishing this on Portent’s corporate blog? Because it’s as much a part of how we succeed as SEO tactics, PPC tips and analytics know-how. It’s part of any good company’s strategy. Teams filled with people ready to pop are bad for business.
More stupiphanies to come. I guarantee it.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint.He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More