I’ve joked that the only people in my life (outside my family) that I spend significant time with fall into two categories:
- People I give money to.
- People who are giving money to me.
Although it’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s not too far off. Leading a growing company takes an extreme amount of time and energy. I want to give as much time to my family as I can — and not just leftovers.
It helps that I love the people I work with: two of the people who work in my office every day started as friends before they became colleagues. We often hang out after-hours and enjoy being together. I truly enjoy most everyone I work with and relish opportunities to connect on topics outside of our work together.
I met a local friend who has encouraged me to network with others; he even made a few great introductions to people I should know. I scheduled a lunch with one of them and later cancelled, not because I wasn’t interested in a few hours out of the office and a new connection, but because I needed to attend to urgent client issues that day.
So, here I am: with most of the people in my life also being ones with whom I have a financial arrangement.
The difficulty of most relationships being with clients or colleagues is that sometimes I lack a sounding board during difficult times. I can’t share team frustrations with my clients, nor should I share concerns about one team member with another — even if they are my friends also. As the leader, I need to project optimism and confidence. While I value authenticity and vulnerability and share some challenges with my team, I can’t share everything.
Even a coach, again: someone I pay.
Leading can be lonely.