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How CEOs Can Balance Optimism and Worry

This mindset is less "CEO schizophrenia" and more so "cognitive dissonance"

Most of my coaching clients are CEOs of growing companies, and a theme that shows up in my work with many of them is the stress that results from simultaneously maintaining two very different views of the world.

Because my clients are constantly raising money from investors, or recruiting senior employees or closing deals with major customers, they must be exuberant optimists, portraying a compelling vision of a successful future. And, because the possibility of failure remains quite real, and those investors, employees and customers will ask tough questions before signing up, my clients must also be keenly aware of the nearly endless list of risk factors and things that could go wrong, sometimes to the point of inducing anxiety.

One of my clients once jokingly called this state of mind "CEO schizophrenia," but to be precise it's a form of cognitive dissonance. The pioneering work on this concept was done by Leon Festinger in the late 1950s, and he described it concisely in an article in Scientific American:

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Cognitive Dissonance.

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