July 29, 2022


A few times recently, I came across this saying called the serenity prayer. It goes “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This probably sounds a little out there for some people, and I get that. While woo sounding prayers are not normally my thing, this particular one in this particular moment stuck with me. It has real power and relevance to how I’m building Alliance.

Anybody who runs a business will understand that things go wrong. People underperform. Vendors fail to follow through. Deals can get sabotaged by a thousand different things. Not even the best leader cannot possibly hope to control all these factors. How we deal with these setbacks sets the tone for an entire organization.

The usual path to a position of authority is high performance. Handle your responsibilities deftly, succeed, and rise. This is particularly true within an established organization, as opposed to the more entrepreneurial path.

My years of building Alliance have taught me that the jump from individual performance to real leadership requires a big mental shift. I’m not perfect, and I can’t expect perfection from my team. I can’t control all things, but I’m still responsible for all of it. For most people, responsibility without control is a mindset that takes work.

Flawless execution only ever happens when nothing goes wrong. For the long-term, I need to build a strong, adaptable team that can overcome unexpected challenges on their own. That means cultivating people, giving them the freedom to grow and to learn by making mistakes. This kind of light touch sets up people and the whole company for greater success.

Real perfection is a process of continual learning and improvement. It’s acting with purpose to overcome challenges as a team. It’s putting ourselves in the best possible position, then letting things play out.

Now back to the serenity prayer. Leaders have to make a lot of choices about how to invest their time, energy, and influence. Whether it’s deploying capital, hiring choices, trying to change the direction of a deal, or anything else, everybody in the organization feels the consequences.

I own the responsibility for everything at Alliance, but I cannot always control all the outcomes. I have to be careful about distinguishing between issues that call for intervention and those that I should allow to play out on their own. The wisdom to tell the difference is something I’ll continue working on for the foreseeable future.

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