Letting go of your “first love”

concept for a happy life using old decorative keys and a hand written tag attached by a golden cordThis week’s podcast episode with Rod Robinson was another reminder of how difficult it is to “let go” as a Founder & CEO. He shared his challenges about “letting go” and it reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a friend.

My friend is the CEO of a growing company, yet he still retained responsibility for some seemingly small, mundane tasks. These were tasks that a well trained and informed person could conceivably do for him. But, these were things that he was use to doing ever since he founded his company. They were not only ingrained behavioral patterns, but they were his first love. They were things that he just loved doing and derived some great satisfaction in completing.

I’m being a bit vague about what these specific things were for my friend, as I’m sure you would like to know what they are. But, the truth is, it is different for each of us. It could be coding things yourself, coordinating your media appearances, building spreadsheets, spending hours recruiting new interns, or even research and development on your product.

As a Founder & CEO, you too have those things that you refuse to give up, even though you have received wise counsel, gentle prodding, and maybe even begging from your team members to give them up.

So, what do you do if you finally realize, albeit intellectually, that you have been hanging on to tasks, projects, issues, or areas of responsibility that were fine as a founder, but really need to be dropped or given to someone else now that you are a CEO?

Here are 5 tips you might consider:

  • Baby Steps: Going “cold turkey” on giving up what you love to do may be hard. Just take some interim, small steps. Can you reduce the size and scope of this activity without totally giving it up all at once?
  • Experiment With Someone Else: Sometimes our inability to transfer those things we love is rooted in trusting someone else to do it to the same level of excellence we normally apply to it. Why not test someone out for just one time? Can you see if a virtual assistant, personal assistant, intern, team member, or a contractor can earn your trust just once?
  • Time-Based Handover: Can you create a time-based handover that helps you make this transition over the course of time and gets you comfortable with the loss you might start to feel?
  • Replacement: Can you replace this “first love” with a new higher level, bigger impact “love” that aligns more with the responsibilities of the CEO of a growing company like yours?
  • Your Team: Can your team come up with a plan that makes you feel comfortable giving up your “first business love” and help grow the company at the same time? After all, you hired them to help problem solve…and, you just might be the problem. 🙂

The transition from Founder to CEO is all about change. The company is changing…and so are you? Can you give up your “first love” if it means focusing on getting your company to its first $5 million revenue month?

My friend finally relinquished his “first love” activities. Yes, it was hard for him. But, in the end he said, “I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”

What’s the hardest thing you had to give up as you transitioned from Founder to CEO?

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