Sounding Boards

Almost any entrepreneurial mind tends to aim to reach the top – be it in the institution in which he / she works or the industry in which the entrepreneurial venture operates. As the enterprise gets built or the elevation happens within the organization – the number of people at the peer level reduces drastically. Finally when the top is reached in almost every institution there is only one person (except very rarely like what Wipro had last year – the dismantled joint-CEO system). So inherently the entrepreneur / CEO tends to start feeling a little lonely. Many situations result in CEOs / entrepreneurs spending their time all by themselves without much sounding boards. Knowledge about why this happens and how this can be handled may result in more effectiveness and less stress.

The reasons why an entrepreneurial mind may feel lonely include:

  • Juniors who look forward to you for inspiration; so one cannot really share the challenges and difficulties all the time
  • Peers who always talk about themselves and their ventures and their success; which most often creates a feeling that you are the only one with the problems
  • Nobody above to take  ownership and provide support; no one above you to escalate the problem to and so it has to be decided upon by you

Sometimes even though these are considered banal, acknowledging them is a great step forward in handling the lonely feeling. Just doing something that creates a positive influence overall is not enough – you need to handle this actively.

Looking for an active mentor is one thing that can solve this problem as it gives an opportunity for you to confidentially open up with one who is not within the system. It is important especially where the entrepreneur is young and the remaining team is also young. A person outside the system, who does not benefit directly by the decision-making, can also provide honest feedback to the entrepreneur. This discussion with a third person can result in number of positive results:

  • Reduce stress levels of the entrepreneur about issues and challenges
  • An outlet to share conflicting but forward looking thoughts
  • A chance to receive critical feedback without any bias
  • An opportunity to unblock the maturing process

Every successful person had someone with whom they shared their personal time and discussed confidential issues to take a decision. These ‘sounding boards’ can make a whale of a difference in an entrepreneur’s life. But finding one for yourself is not easy – be it paid or unpaid! Till you find one, understand that it is going to be a bit lonely and it is also a part of the growing process. Even with this, as Steve Jobs said, “Keep searching, don’t settle”

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