Charity Majors @mipsytipsy CTO @honeycombio, ex-Parse, Facebook, Linden Lab; cowrote Database Reliability Engineering; loves whiskey, rainbows. I test in production and so do you. 🌈🖤 May. 21, 2018 2 min read

I've been saying jokingly for years that being CEO is a one way train to sociopathy. I'm not joking anymore: if you do it long enough and are even moderately successful, it's not *whether* you will manifest sociopathic tendencies but when.

I never, ever wanted this gig. I always wanted to be *CTO*. I knew CEO was a shit gig all along. Everybody shits on you and it's your job to sit and take it, and if you complain it sounds like gross, privileged self pity.

And consider the incentives:

You have to learn to be extremely stingy and selective with your emotional mirroring and empathy. You *have* to. Or you'll blow your budget for the week by Monday noon.

You have to learn to "think strategically". This is code for seeing people as resources and using them as means to an end, not the fully human bodies with hopes and dreams that they are.

You have to move your pieces around and strike the optimal balance between humanizing and dehumanizing to get the best results and try to reach your goals

Sometimes you have to do things to people that hurt them, for the greater good. And it bothers you just how easy it was.

And this is all assuming you were even right about your mission and how to get there. Which, you're gonna be wrong about more than you're right about, so you get to bear the load of that alone too.

You pretty much have to level up on sociopathy just to get out of bed in the am

or "compartmentalization", shall we say.

People see you as an avatar, not fully human, so maybe it's only playing fair to dish it back?

The main thing that's been bothering me lately is how short my temper has gotten with incompetent waiters.

I spend all day trying to give clear, prompt and actionable feedback and have high standards, and when a waiter is seriously fucking up I... have a hard time with it.

But you just can't function if you feel everyone's feelings instead of being very outcome oriented.

Like, can you imagine being the president, and having to order an action that will result in death or immiseration for many? You have to find the right level of abstraction.

Clearly I'm not cut out for this gig long term. I will give it up with relief the moment I can. And see if I can still be hired as anything but a shit PM by then.

That's definitely my greatest fear, that by diving on this grenade I have given up my career as an engineer. Sigh


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