One of the things I continually find myself saying to friends, founders, and colleagues is that every single company is a shit show.* Founders, execs, and employees like to think that there’s a better way of doing things and point to other companies as if they’ve discovered the holy grail on how to smoothly operate. It’s a grass is always greener mentality. Sometimes it’s good because it forces us to aspire to continually improve. Other times it’s bad because it gives us things to complain about that really aren’t a big deal at the end of the day.
But the fact of the matter is that once you get under the hood, every company is a shit show in its own unique way, and often times in non-unique ways (there’s a very broad spectrum here on the chaos scale). Nobody has “nailed it” and everyone is making things up. The sooner you come to accept that the sooner you realize imperfection is a good thing and riding the ups and downs and dealing with the idiosyncrasies and inherent dysfunctions of companies is just the way it goes. And depending on how companies handle this, it’s the difference between having a joyous amount of fun along the way and having a losing culture.
If you run into founders who think this isn’t true of their company, they’re probably lying to themselves or sociopaths. And if you run into employees who think everything is fabulous, they’ve likely drank the Kool Aid or aren’t privy to just how messed up things really are.
Every company is a shit show and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Or else that would probably be…boring.
*Except for the company I’m currently employed by – that one is perfect.