The journey isn’t just lonely at the top

Something I have struggled with in business is loneliness.

I feel like there ought to be a better word to describe the feeling but I think “loneliness” is the best we have in the English lexicon.

Most of the business ventures I have embarked on over the past couple of decades have been solo endeavors. It’s not intentional—and I don’t know what that says about me and my personality—but that’s the way it’s worked out.

I tend to be rather spontaneous when it comes to implementing ideas—and, when I see there’s an itch that needs scratching, I build a scratcher to see if it will work.

I have never had a co-founder in any of my businesses and have often shared that I’ve felt like an only child.

As I’ve grown a team at Lucid, I’ve reflected at times on the loneliness of “the founder’s journey” and I’ve come to believe that it’s not just “lonely at the top.”

I believe there is an element of loneliness in all our journeys—if we allow it!

As Lucid has grown, something I have attempted to do is ensure everyone has a colleague or teammate they can pair up with to fulfill a particular function or area of responsibility.

At first glance, it might seem less efficient to contemplate working in pairs. Quickly, though, it becomes clear that two heads working together can lead to outcomes exponentially greater than what would be achieved with two individuals working in isolation.

This is particularly noticeable with complex design-thinking or problem-solving. It applies to designing systems or making decisions on what tools to adopt or which partners to engage.

The ability to toss ideas around and explore challenges from different angles is vastly improved when working in pairs or small teams.

This got me wondering further about what “the journey” might be like for those “on the tools”, so to speak—the designs, developers, strategists, project managers, account managers, and everyone else who is not the founder or chief-decision-maker.

Their journey can be equally lonely if they’re not given opportunities to share the ups and downs and struggles—or the burden of decision-making—with their teammates or someone else.

In our effort to build lean teams, we tend to underinvest in team-building. We overload our teams with too much complexity and too many areas of responsibility without the frameworks or systems to support them or enable them to have sounding boards and forums for healthy discussion.

There’s a certain element of “tossing things around”—from a diverse range of perspectives—that is vital to problem solving and vital to making the journey less lonely. It leads to better outcomes and more fulfilling work.

I have seen this in my own companies and I see it in many of the companies I work with.

As leaders, the journey can be a lonely one, for sure.

But, what are we doing to empower our teams (at all levels) to provide the frameworks and support to give them the tools and resources and people they need to make their journeys less lonely and more rewarding?

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