The Key To Finding The Best CEO

Firing myself and hiring a better CEO saved my life and our company.

I was 28 when my father died of a sudden heart attack. That day I buried my grief with him, became CEO of his company, and started driving tirelessly.

I had been a workaholic; now I became a “do-aholic” and gave it my all. I became addicted to it and watched The American Dream until I caught it. I had loads of dollars and the right stuff, but I felt worthless because—though I didn’t consciously know it—I was trying to prove myself to a dead man. Dad had been my role model and without his approval, which was impossible now, I felt I had no real worth.

Constant stress disrupted my health, business conduct, and family relationships. I got top marks for stubbornness and denial until my doctor told me, “You probably have less than a month to live.” I hit rock bottom that day, so hard I hit it again, slamming into the ceiling, under the I was suffocated and blasted right through the ceiling.

I let go, I surrendered. I had to, it wasn’t even a choice because playing God almost killed me. I did, there is no better way to put it. Mr. Self-sufficient, that was me, arrogant and oblivious to my epic stupidity. Some CEO!

So I fired myself and hired a CEO for our company. I have resigned from committees. I stopped weighing every decision (we had 500 employees at the time and almost ten thousand customers to make a lot of decisions).

“You may not be the best CEO. It was not me. But I found my perfect replacement and it was quite a surprise!”

In the meantime, I needed a miracle for my body. So I found another CEO for my life, an unlikely choice: God. It was embarrassing to realize that as a Christian who attended church regularly, I didn’t really have a daily relationship with God. I treated him like a backup pitcher to call emergencies in the ninth inning.

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I remember vividly the moment that changed, alone, drunk and bleeding in a darkened hotel room. “It’s about God,” are the words I heard echoing in my head. My proud rebellion ended on the spot. That’s when the “higher power” they tell you to surrender your life in AA (I joined and got sober) became a reality. I got it. Man, did I get it!

Suddenly it was so clear. I didn’t beat my own heart, right? I didn’t stop the moon from crashing to earth or make nature behave. “Something” had to sort it all out, and it certainly wasn’t me. I couldn’t even live my own little life! So I let go of control and invited God to be my personal CEO.

It turns out God knows what he’s doing because today, six years later, I’m healthy, sober and happy, and our business has grown beyond expectations. I have also been freed from the spirit of my late father. I feel loved for who I am now, not for what I do, which means I no longer need his (or anyone else’s) approval. And it also works the other way around; Now I can love my father for who he was, imperfect, just like me and the rest of us.

So many movies and books tell stories about father-child relationships and a lot of attention is paid to that in Therapy Land. Well, I solved my father-son stuff (and everything else) in a different way, replacing it with Him (He/She/It, choose which term you prefer, God doesn’t mind).

If you’re stressed with your life and career, or if you’re beset by a fathering issue like me, I recommend you stop trying to fix it and give up. Give up. Let go. Consider inviting God to be the CEO of your life. I don’t have him under an exclusive contract and I can certainly give him an excellent reference.

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