The Difficulty of Leadership
As I write this letter, I’m in the middle of one of the most difficult periods of my life. The details of the situation don’t matter, but all I can really say is this: It’s tough. And along the way, I’ve had to learn a fairly unpleasant lesson: As a leader, the show must still go on. The magazine still needs to go out every month, the writers still need their stories edited, the team still needs a leader pushing us forward—even when, some days, the simple act of showing up and putting on a good face feels like enough of an undertaking.
As business owners, I’m sure many, if not all, of you can relate. No matter where you’re at in the lifecycle of your business—just starting out, years in and less hands-on, on your way out—the success and future of your business still comes down to you. And that’s a lot of pressure.
But this letter isn’t meant to be depressing or a pity party. If anything, the intent is to highlight something we don’t talk about enough when it comes to leadership: It’s really challenging, and you’re probably not recognized nearly enough for that hard work.
There’s a reason so many people have horror stories about bad bosses, and it’s because it can’t easily be taught. For many of us, we went to school, learned a trade (I did, too, as a journalism major) and then got a job within that trade, where we excelled and grew into leadership roles.
But there’s no way that any type of schooling could have properly prepared you for the complexity of being a manager to employees, or how to deal with an irate customer, or the emotional burden of supporting the livelihood of others.
Some days—especially during the hard days—you may feel like you’re failing.
But here’s the thing: More than likely, you’re doing just fine. The mere fact that you’re even reading this magazine, that you’re expressing interest in bettering yourself and your business, speaks volumes about your mindset. I hope that, within the pages of this issue, something—a story, a quote, a new idea—sticks with you and helps you in your business. On a fundamental level, that’s what we aim to do here every month at FenderBender.
So, yes, being a leader is hard—but it’s also incredibly rewarding. The hard work can be very satisfying, and I’d like to recognize everyone putting in that work. And if, like me, you’re going through it right now, I hear you. We’ll get through it, and you don’t have to do it alone. There’s a reason that we write about community so much in FenderBender, and it’s because it’s key to avoid feeling isolated. I can speak from experience that a small group of trusted colleagues have made a remarkable difference in keeping me focused, laughing and looking toward the future.