When CEOs are too scared to fulfill their own vision – part 1

For those of you interested in business planning and strategy, I have just come across an informative, inspiring case study.

What is a vision? It’s not as mystical or out there as it sounds. A vision, quite simply, is a picture of what success will be at a particular time in the future. 

Ari Weinzweig set up a deli in the early1980s. Today, he employs 500 people in 8 different sectors, drawing in nearly $40million annually. And his recipe for success?

Complete the visioning process, and you’ll have a clearly articulated end for your organization—something that won’t change every time the market or your mood shifts.

Weinzweig’s description of how it takes a mere 30 minutes to complete most of the vision-making process is close to bizarre. So, why can’t most people follow his tried and consistent repeated recipe for success?

A few months ago, I helped to structure a deal, which stretched across continents. The contract was designed to secure European market entry over a few months for a small enterprise. Cool…..except that the CEO of the vendor in question did not see immediate results.

Our CEO felt that time and money was being invested, but dollars were not rolling into the bank account. At what was estimated to be half way into the set up process, our CEO pulled out.

It was their reasoning that annoyed me, which seemed polite but not very convincing. So, I prodded a bit to find out the whole story. Reading between the lines, you could almost hear the hidden shouts of anxiety, such as: –

  • If I do not succeed, what will people say?
  • If I succeed, will I keep control?
  • If I only partially succeed, is that really good enough?

I felt that the top executive was trying to convince themself: “If I put off important decisions, I may retract from my vision, but my life will become better?” 

We can call this thought process the “four ifs of self-perpetuating doom”. Convenient. Pride reestablished. No pain. And the brain is at ease.

Minor problem – no gain. Which side of the mind is our CEO listening to? 

And I see this time and again in mentoring. Earlier this week, I sat down with the owner of a small leisure business. “What should I do next?” I was asked several times by an anxious client and owner of a cash flow crisis.

By the end of the session, the client had made some phone calls, which she had put off for some days. She had created the structure for a new marketing team. And she had called one of her own customers.

She even looked pleased with her efforts. After all, she had made a major stride towards obtaining her goals.

Why had she not done all these things prior to our meet up? In fact, she had tried to introduce other tasks, which would have put off these decisions, just like our CEO. 

I can’t say for sure. But I do know that when she first realised what she had to do, there was an element of fear on her face. The “four ifs” were back again.

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One Comment on “When CEOs are too scared to fulfill their own vision – part 1”


  1. […] Afternoon Tea In Jerusalem What you want to know about Israeli commercial life and society « When CEOs are too scared to fulfill their own vision – part 1 […]


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