Personally, I blame Bruce Springsteen because no one blames him for anything ever, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we have romanticized the idea of the Boss.
The Boss is in charge. The Boss has flexibility. The Boss takes fancy lunch meetings. The Boss also carries the weight of the company, everyone’s salaries, deals with HR, paychecks, keeps the company afloat, and more.
Head honch-no thank you.
Do you think Grace Coddington wanted to be Anna Wintour? Maybe somewhere along the 25 years she worked for Vogue she thought, ‘I’d like to be Editor-in-Chief,’ shortly thereafter realizing, “Oh no, I’d much rather smile!”
That doesn’t mean she wasn’t aspirational and kick-ass at her job. "Do I dream very much? Do I dream predominantly about fashion?” she asked herself in the 2009 documentary The September Issue. “No,” she answered, “I dream much more about cats.”
I can’t help but feel the same. I have dreams and hopes for myself, but running a company or making Forbes 30 Under 30 aren’t them. Jokes on them! I'm over 30. (Cats have nothing to do with my dreams either.) But why does that feel so uncomfortable to say out loud? As if it makes me less powerful, less feminist, less of the woman I should aspire to be. We hold professional advancement in higher regard than performing well in our position.
Running the show means that if shit hits the fan, it’s your fan and you’re cleaning it. Yes, it also means there is the potential for a high payout. The accolades are more high profile. The dinner party invites might be better and the dream wardrobe more of a reality, but the pretty version of jet-set-dinner-party-squad-goals boss that we see projected through the Valencia filter on IG isn’t real life. Everyone knows that, and yet we are still conditioned to think that "boss" means success.
Well, CE-no thank you. Here are 5 reasons why.
TO me, the idea of being the boss seems like being the Queen or King; neither are roles I’ve ever wanted to play. There are rules, restrictions, public personas— things you can and cannot say, etiquette and financial stressors. Sure, as Queen you don’t need a license to drive (or in the case of Queen Elizabeth to ill) but you are in charge of all your subjects. Or in the case of being the boss, your employees. (Fun fact: Queen E owns all of the swans in the Thames River.)
When you are the boss there are no job requirements. Your job is everything. When you own the company you don’t get a raise because you performed well; most often that money is pumped back into the company to show potential investors that you believe in your idea.
BEING THE BOSS OFTEN MEANS $$. BUT MONEY CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS.
Let’s hit refresh on that always cited Princeton University study published in 2010 that found that happiness rises as income rises up until you hit $75,000 a year. At that dollar point, happiness ceases to improve as you earn more.
The study actually found the opposite to be true. Those who are happiest are proven to be more productive which, leads to better pay.
Not all founders or bosses are unhappy, but the stakes are higher, so is the pressure, and as we’ve heard from Create & Cultivate panelists, “Founder depression is real.”
YOU HAVE LESS JOB MOBILITY.
When you are unhappy or unfulfilled by your job or career path, you can change it. (This should not be taken as advice to monkey around from one career branch to another.) But with less responsibly comes more mobility. When you are in charge, or own your own company, that company has custody over you. You can’t simply pick up and leave— there are people who rely on you after all. No pressure.
Moreover, shuttering your own company and going to work for someone else is viewed as a set-back. Even if it's not true, people view it as a failure. Having to walk away from a company you created is not a position I want to be in.
Being crucified on the cover of Variety as a failure? Seems unpleasant as well. Multi-million dollar payout and all (see point 2).
IF YOU DO WHAT YOU LOVE...
You’ll never work a day in your life. So the saying goes. This is one of those really tired, unrealistic job-related aphorisms that f’s with people’s heads. Even if you love what you do, you will not like it all the time. In fact, you might hate it some days. TOTALLY OK TOO.
As employees we tend to give ourselves more leniency when it comes to the days we don’t like our jobs. When you own the company, or when you’re the boss, there is more pressure to believe in and love the work.
It’s simply not possible to love it all the time. As a founder you have to be obsessed with your company to make it work, but obsessions come in waves. Some days are easier to ride out than others.
When you're the boss it’s very stressful and scary on the days when you’re simply not feeling it.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH NOT BEING THE BOSS.
So you don’t want to be the boss? GREAT! Let's high-five each other. There are currently almost 10 million boss hashtags on IG.
You can be a high-performer without being in the highest position. Success doesn’t mean car or corner office or cabana. You can create an amazing career without striking out on your own. Being someone's right hand doesn't mean you've chopped yours off.
[If you do want to be the boss: read this.]
Success means going home and having the ability to dream about cats. It means that you are satisfied with the decisions you’ve made for your career. For many people that means acknowledging that you don’t want to own a company or be in charge.
Even it if means you don’t own all the swans, you’ve still got the wings to fly.
Arianna Schioldager is the Editorial Director of Create & Cultivate, and therefore, not the boss. Find her on Instagram: @ariannawrotethis and on this site she never updates www.ariannawrotethis.com
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