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Confessions of a CEO: It's not me, it's them.

September 25, 2023 Joe Mechlinski


This year, I have spoken to countless leaders about what’s keeping them up at night and what's getting them out of bed in the morning.

And the difference is stark.

What’s keeping them up at night is the angst of the future, the agony of tough decisions, and the anguish of the pace and pain of change in their teams.

In fact, one CEO said to me just last week, “This is the hardest moment of my professional career. I don’t feel like the team is giving their all or moving fast enough, and I feel like one of my executives of 10 years isn’t going to make the cut.”

All of this is hard short-term pain.

What’s getting them out of bed in the morning is the possibility and opportunity that sits in front of them. The idea that there is privilege in the pressure of having the chance to lead a group of remarkable humans.

All of this is long-term gain.


In order to thrive during times of change and uncertainty, the first step is to discern the opportunities to be seized and the temptations to be resisted.

In short, we can’t fight the wave of reality, but ride it. 


I get it. These are first-world problems. But stress and pain are relative.

Most executives live by the credo that failure isn’t an option, but they know they'll make a mistake or two along the way. As Rocky said, it’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up.

Most CEOs are ready to sign up for this for themselves, but where most are struggling is with their team’s ability to grow regardless.

Let’s get real and raw and speak to the most relevant confessions of today’s CEOs who might be experiencing something you are living through right now. We’ll see if it sparks a way out of these double binds and rock-and-hard-place moments.

I want to pass along these three CEO confessions to shed light on what we're all dealing with – and what we can do next.


TOPICS: Employee Engagement, Workplace Innovation, Leadership Development, leadership, Remote Work, Company Culture