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  • Writer's pictureLeah York, CAE

"Being the CEO is a lonely place." If I had a dollar for every time I heard that...

Author: Leah York, CAE; President of Talbott Talent

At the end of our conversation today, a woman I had just met said, "Thanks for the therapy." She was kidding, of course (sort of), but I hear this just about every day. I'm that person people overshare with. Regularly. It usually starts with, "I don't know why I'm telling you this." Then I say, "That's OK; everyone does it." And the conversation continues.

Image: Charles M. Schulz Museum

There are some things...thoughts...

ideas...fears...that are not appropriate for a nonprofit CEO to share with the organization's board or staff. But these things do need to be shared with someone - to say them out loud, laugh at them, cry about them, question them, affirm them, discard them, organize them, and decide what on earth to do next with them!

If you're leading an organization, find that person - a coach, a mentor, a therapist (!), another nonprofit leader - and get all those crazy, wonderful, scary, innovative, ridiculous, inspirational things out of your head and into the open.

Along these lines, one of the best pieces of advice I've been given is, "Every day, talk with someone who knows WHO you are, WHAT you're about, and WHERE you're going." In other words, find a cheerleader - an encourager - who, when you feel like quitting (and if you're trying to do anything of any significance, you will feel like quitting!) you can call them and say, "Remind me again why I'm doing this."

I have at least three of those people in my life. None of them have any financial interest in my business - none of them even work in the same field - but they know me and I trust them and I can call them and say, "Hey, does this sound crazy to you..."

I'm grateful I'm able to be that person for others and that I have become - not without many mistakes along the way - the kind of woman who is trusted by the people she admires the most.


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