I came across this Success Is a Squiggly Line diagram from Demetri Martin at Lifehacker.com. I love the message, because it accurately describes what a company goes through on the path to success. While I founded and successfully exited two companies to large returns for the team and investors, the path to success was anything but straight.
In an earlier post I described a board meeting where I recommended shutting down one of the companies after the events of 9/11 made it difficult to sell anything. I could tell you about another half a dozen times where I thought the companies would likely fail. As a CEO, you will rarely feel completely confident that your company is going to be a big success.
The phrase I use is paranoid optimism. I think that phrase captures the natural state that a good CEO adopts. There is a constant level of stress: The path to success has too many twist and turns to ever feel comfortable. Which is one reason I’m not desperate to jump right back into the CEO chair!
But I do believe that as a CEO you can set yourself up to be a good leader and make the best decisions possible at any given time, which is the reason I started this blog.
See also: Steering clear of other CEO’s mistakes