THE FIRST TEMPTATION:
Charlie started with, tell me this Andy, what was the best day of your career?
“Try not to make it complicated. Just tell me what your best day was.”
I’d have to say the day I was promoted as a CEO. One year ago, tomorrow.
Charlie seemed disappointed by the answer. Not judgmental. Just disappointed. “Why?”
Again Charlie, “Okay then what about the second-best day?”
Andrew took a deep breath and described his first promotion to vice president, and about how it was the first time his salary “cracked six figures.”
Charlie was slowly nodding his head as though he had figured something out. “Okay, Andy. I don’t want to be too critical, but-”
With less humour now, Andrew asked: “Okay, what makes you think I’ve into temptation number one?
What temptation number one, anyway?”
“Well, I can’t be certain, but it seems to me that you may be more interested in protecting the career status that you are in making sure your company achieve results.”
“Let’s use an example.” “Think about a politician, maybe even the president of the United States. Imagine that I was asked him the same question I just asked you. ‘Mr. President, what was the biggest day of your career?’ What would a great president say?”
Or think about ahead of a nonprofit agency. Or even the coach of the professional basketball team.”
“Well, imagine the president of the United States saying that the greatest day of his career was election day. Or inauguration day.”
“Or imagine the head of the nonprofit agency saying that her proudest moment was when she received a grant from the government.”
“Or imagine the basketball coach team his greatest day was signing a big contract for him.
Andrew frowned. “To tell you the truth, those sound like pretty realistic answers to me.”
They are extremely realistic that’s the problem.”
“You know what my father said when I asked him about the best day of his career?”
Andrew shook his head.
“He said it was the toss-up between the day the railroad opened its first passenger line west of Mississippi and the day the company first turned a profit.”
“You see, a great president of the United States wouldn’t be as proud of being elected as he would of actually accomplishing something. And a nonprofit agency shouldn’t feel good about getting funding unless they did something meaningful with the money. And there isn’t a great coach alive who would say that his best day was getting hired. Winning games and championships is what great coach is all about.”
“So, Charlie you are saying that people shouldn’t be proud to reach personal milestones in their careers?”
Charlie smiled. “Of course, they can proud of milestones. But not as proud as they are of actually doing something with their status.
In fact, great CEOs should be almost overwhelmed by the need to achieve something. That is driven them. Achievement. Not ego.
Andrew asked, why couldn’t a person be so motivated by his ego that he could drive for results?
Lots of CEOs have a big ego.
Charlie seemed stumped. That’s true, I suppose a CEO could be driven by ego.”
“But it wouldn’t last for long.”
“Because once a person’s ego is initially satisfied, they turn their efforts toward enjoying the fruits of their status. They work fewer hours. They worry less about the company’s performance than they do about their own level of comfort and status.”
When the company shows the sign of failures and CEOs status is in jeopardy, then he might work hard again, but not because he is concerned about the company. He is really concerned about his image.
And even if you are able to resist the first temptation, there are still four more that can sink you.”