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Valentin Sawadski (he/him)
Valentin Sawadski (he/him)

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A short story about the dark side of being a founder and how insecure I was with Job Titles

I used to be obsessed with Job Titles. It was very hard to have an honest conversation with me about roles and responsibilities in the founding/management team. I simply had to have that C-Title. But I did not really know why 🤷‍♂️

This meant that I was blind to make good decisions on management responsibilities, because I always kept thinking about myself and not about the companies best interest. Looking back, that is one of the clearest signs of a dysfunctional management team. And it was my fault!

And it wasn’t until a year later, when I had drinks with someone that I realized why: My social life depended on it! He wasn’t meeting me because of “me”, he was meeting me because of my C-Title! For him it was networking, for me it was more than that!

And it dawned on me how much I had neglected my social life over the past years! And instead of having friends and family around me I took my sense of belonging and self worth from my job and title.

Feeling lost inside I needed to reorient my inner compass. What worked for me was diving into Philosophy, especially Thich Nhat Hanh

What I learned from him is the concept of “interbeing” which in essence says it’s hard to draw the line between you and your environment as you are not constant but at all time changing, because of your breathing, metabolising, essentially consuming your surroundings.

And if it’s so hard to actually define what "you" are, because you are constantly changing (literally speaking!), then why worry about your ego and title? Instead, isn’t it better to think about the part you play in your environment?

Now instead of titles, I focus on one question: How can I be helpful?

I’m constantly looking for the role that I can contribute the most and try to set up things in way to achieve the best outcome, which might be by removing myself from the equations. And that's okay!

Which does not mean that sometimes these old feelings won’t come back. But at least this time it’s easier for me to recognize them and not get blindsided again.

And when those feelings come back, I try to take a break and reach out to people who care about my happiness more then about my job, to ground myself put things into perspective again.

Or hang out with dogs. They're always happy to see you as long as you give them attention (and snacks) 😉

If all of this sounds familiar and you’d love to talk some more. Comment, or for a more private discussion reach out to me on Twitter. My DMs are open!

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