Chapter 16Mission ImpossibleDealing with Obstacles, Fear, and Imposter Syndrome

What Everyone Is Thinking

I'm afraid that I'm not good enough.

If you are human, you will be afraid sometimes. If you are a leader, you will be attacked and challenged sometimes. At times your job will feel so ugly and impossible that you think you will surely fail. In my experience, the bigger the job, the harder it gets because as you move higher, there is less clarity of expectations, less support from your direct manager, less feedback, and higher stakes. There is also much more competition for budget, people, and charter.

That brings us to Part 3: V = Valor because leadership is hard. That's why you need Valor to progress through the long Middle.

Welcome to Being a Leader

I can remember feeling at various points in my career that the mission just didn't make sense, or that it was unsupported. I felt like I was out on a limb owning all of the risk, and with not enough resources to succeed. Or I felt like the corporate bureaucracy, the board, or another group or particular adversary was blocking me (or sabotaging me) from doing the right things that I knew needed to be done. Or I would get a directive that didn't make any sense like, “You must cut costs by 50 percent but you can not make any cuts to the biggest program.”

As a leader, this unreasonable, soul-crushing stuff is just part of the job description. There are always big, ugly, seemingly impossible problems, annoying people, and exhausting ...

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