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Is a CEO supposed to be impervious to doubt and fear? You have to think about a lot of stressful things as a CEO: delivering for your customers; generating revenue; retaining your amazing team; doing right by investors; and so much more. Some say that doubt and fear can be debilitating, but for me it is empowering. The doubt and fear I feel fuels my drive to work harder. It is the psychological component of a giant unstoppable engine that makes it impossible to quit or slow down.
Can CEOs admit to feeling existential angst? Kids today are suffering from climate anxiety, but what about the adults? I feel a huge weight of responsibility to change the future of the lithium mining industry before I die. Future clean energy storage, electric vehicle demand and the constant consumption of electronics all require lithium ion batteries, but the way that battery metals are extracted today is not sustainable. I am personally championing the use of nanotechnology as a hard science solution to clean up the lithium sector. But who will carry this torch if I don’t get far enough along? This existential angst pushes me to build an adaptable company of future thinkers who will not stop until we leave the world in a better position.
Do other CEOs feel an insatiable longing to succeed? My weeks go by in a blink — late nights and early mornings; falling asleep and waking up beside my laptop; traveling for hours; practicing pitches in airport bathrooms. But it still doesn’t feel like enough. I need to do more to ensure that nothing stands in my way of developing my tech in the most adaptable and sustainable manner possible. This longing gives purpose to my actions and alignment to my goals.
A CEO does not have to be an emotionless titan of industry. I saw a strong oil and gas company CEO tear up and I heard his voice crack while he gave a speech at a UNICEF event recently. I did not lose respect for him. In fact, I gained an appreciation for the kind of man he is. I saw a strong, competent leader be vulnerable and show his feelings. This type of leader is attuned to the needs of his team, just like I am. I want to know at all times how I can help them and make their jobs easier, so that together, we can succeed and feel the honour and privilege of solving one of the world’s biggest energy-related challenges.
If this is what it means to be a CEO, then my answer is, yes, I feel like a CEO.