Journey Through the Valley of Angst and Complacency


Perhaps more than ever, CEOs seek out professionals with an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ to help guide and execute the transformation that is being forced upon their organizations by external forces such as technology and business model innovation. Traditional, hierarchical organizational structures are disolving, giving way to more networked structures like holacracy and agile squads. And, thus ‘collaboration’ has become a key trait that CEOs look for in employee candidates as well. And, with the rise of perk-filled, startup cultures and facilities, spearheaded by Google, CEOs and their HR teams look for ways to keep their employees ‘happy’. If, as Peter Drucker taught us, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, then today’s CEOs are more cognizant that culture will help them better execute strategy.

If employing entrepreneurial, collaborative and happy people is the destination, then the journey is likely to take you through The Valley of Angst and Complacency.

Entrepreneurial people by nature feed on angst. We are motivated by big visions and burdened by how long it takes to achieve those visions. Change is never fast enough. Competitors are always right behind us. Days aren’t long enough. Sleep is not our friend. And, it is possible that the worst feeling comes when we achieve what we set out to achieve. Because the game is over. And, all we want is to reset and play again. Hence, the serial entrepreneur. Or, even, the serial intrepreneur.

On the other side of this valley are the complacent.  They may recognize that change is happening, but they minimize it in their minds. They want stable hours. They’re not particularly invested in their company beyond the fact that work pays for life outside of work. And, so their job becomes to guard the status quo and to position for their job’s safety and to avoid disruption.

The most deathly terrain in this valley is when the entrepreneurial employee has hit so many walls of bureaucracy on the road to change that s/he gives up. Throws in the towel. There are only two outcomes: the person leaves, or the person goes complacent. Either way, the light goes out and the company has lost a valuable asset.

In The Purpose Economy – a time when it seems that change is the status quo, whether the organization and the people like it or not – the challenge for CEOs is to lead their team through The Valley of Angst and Complacency. To guide their teams through a shared purpose. To break down bureaucratic barriers. And, to trust in the team’s intuition to tackle the challenges in front of them.

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