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Leadership Stress, Quantified and Qualified

Leadership is like porn: you know it when you see it.

Leadership requires sacrifice and clarity

Despite the stereotype of CEOs/founders bearing the burden of being “lonely at the top” … they have made sacrifices to their happiness (60%)

Leadership is like porn: you know it when you see it.

Most people reading this essay understand that leadership is all-consuming. When two-thirds of a work day is focused on high-level execution and real-time trouble, there is precious little bandwidth for decompression and reflection.

I have experienced this first-hand.

Building Capital has taken a significant toll on my health, happiness, and family. My wife, who works in a very different field, is a saint for lovingly and patiently dealing with my high highs and low lows.

But here’s the thing: I would not trade the job of building Capital for any other one. My work is rewarding specifically because it is hard. All hard work involves stress.

Stress can manifest itself in different ways. Some people gain weight. Some people drink too much. Other people take it out on their loved ones.

Some interesting data points from this study (which, I assume, is heavily male):

  • 90% admit “fear of failure”
  • 53% wish they had more hard skills
  • 48% read for pleasure
  • 48% participate in extreme sports

Leaders cannot decouple stress from their work. It is a central part of the leadership formula.

But what they can do — what they must do — is learn to manage it. They can start with the basics: exercise, diet, sleep, therapy, community, communication, and a thousand other remedies.

Why is this important?

Stress — leadership, financial, professional, personal — can literally kill you. It is acutely dangerous because it is easy to ignore, hard to manage, and eats at you, slowly, from the inside out.

Spending time figuring out stress, triggers, and solutions is not a selfish activity. Far from it. Doing the hard work of managing stress — a life-long process — allows us to be better workers, better spouses, and better people.