10 mental images to practice growing a thick skin as CEO!

10 mental images to practice growing a thick skin as CEO!

I decided that in the next 10 years, Im going into Global Trade and Investment on behalf of Generation-Y in Egypt well, he mumbled, you were just complaining about corruption and power struggles in your local Cairo community, now you are about to kick ass with the most powerful people in the world? You think you are ready for this?

Anyway, It’ll either destroy you or youll will grow into it.

His scenario planning methodologies and projecting ones vision into the long term of 10 and 20 years, came to formulate Egypreneurs vision statement: Establishing Cairo as the modern Mecca of Global Trade and Investment and taking the lead in systemically influencing the economic behavior of Generation-Y in Egypt.

Dont get me wrong, he did believe in me when I was just a kid selling stuff on the internet and consistently invested hours and hours of his expensive consulting time waiting for me as I make it to our meetings 45 minutes late, as he looks at his watch and say EXACTLY 45 minutes, its almost like a branding thing, right? Well, I impressed him a few time as I show up sharply on time, he wondered, then, If I can do it, why not to do it consistently!

He still told me he saw massive potential in the CEO version of me. Though, he always wondered whats really behind this cold mask of formality, why would I be overweight, why would I be late to a meeting when I know exactly how not to, as he carefully thought about these matters when I couldnt care less.

He asked me for a meeting at the Conrad after a meeting with a large international institution, he relaxed on the lobbys sofa and told me, I was hearing a States Man in there, your strong voice was taking over the room with these perfectly picked words, ideas are sharp and clear as it can be and scenarios are given, I looked at everyone taking glimpse of respect and consideration to your words, you are planning on becoming a President one day right? Im flattered thanks, and no, no plans to go anywhere.

He once pushed too hard for answers, and was surprised that this cold smart kid who has a special talent of picking the right, diplomatic words, exploded. Emotionally exploded with why is he like this. What do you want to know, huh? You want to know what the people I trusted the most did to me? You want to know how many time I was back-stabbed in a period of 6 month? Or you want to know the cunning of your friends and the corruption of the institutions you work for?

He comfortably relaxed back into his chair and did nothing but staring into my eyes while my body language is getting more and more aggressive, while Im throwing stories of pain, deceit and betrayal right and left, with the same boldness of the one who made the impression of a states man some days back.

Wow, my f**** lord. He mumbled quietly as I nervously adjust myself back to my chair and took an aggressive sip from this finished cup in front of me, while throwing my eye contact away to the wall, wondering what the hell did I just do!

I didnt expect him to understand, neither I think he did while taking glimpse to my round belly, fallen hair and slightly discouraged spirit at the tender age of 26 which a few years back stemmed with positive energy, with stories about my Parkour adventures, and how much my Kung Fu coach tried to distract trainees from the fact that this barely 5’7″ dude, just delivered a stylish flying kick to a heavy sand bag that dropped into the ground of this underground training garage with a sound of an explosion. And all eyes of the new guys headed towards me as I respond with a cocky smile and aggressive eye contact of a SIDI who can do serious damage.

He had to give up. He tried his best. And the asset that he was working on had so many emotional blocks he didnt know how to fix. Do you know the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear about wasted resources and potential. What? You? you represent the wasted resources of your generation as you continue to live with fucken 2% of your capacity.

As the image of a mentor fades away to the back of my mind, and the few people who just came to look me in the eyes and tell me, I only do this because I believe in you.- I always found renewal, self-discovery and willingness to resist and bite only just not to let them down.

I even started searching for these emotional blocks to tear them down, to crush them as I crushed the sandbag.

As we get down to business with the philosophies of a cute childhood, we are often struck with the reality that the values, principles and ethics we brought up on are challenged in the workplace. That the people we get in contact with are often influenced by completely different paradigms about life, power and society. Its unless we discover and re-discover whats really motivating these people and how to deal with them we will fall a victim to either their cunning or our own sense of giving up after seeing the worst part of human behavior.

I tried to search for these situations that caused me emotional blocks from doing what I want to do in the past, I wanted to study them to tear them down, to accept the fact that, often people who we trust the most will be our worst enemies and that there are relationships in life that we cant fix an dont need to.

1. Personal Envy
Do you know that some of the people who betray you, they do so only because they wish theyd be like you? You have these qualities that tortures them and they just cant stop until they completely destroy you if they can. The kid who is getting all the toys, support and power and still challenged to keep up with you, the amount and consistency of hate, cunning and betrayal coming from this jealous kid will either destroy you or them.

I have tried to fix some of these relationships and think that, If Im nice to him, hell just stop and like me or something, which only made me more vulnerable to more betrayal and cunning. Mark the jealous kids and know what to expect from them.

2. Your Mentees
You see potential in them, you bring them close, too close, you cherish them with your attention, you award them with shiny titles and unconditional support and belief, you expect them to be grateful, but no, they resent you and the only thing they can think of is proving how much they are better than you, that they didnt need this care, that they didnt need this attention and that they would have got it on their own.

A very clear example of that is the relationship between Rocky Balboa and his mentorship to Tommy Gun and how it turned into revenge and animosity.

This is probably one of the hardest situations to be at but Adrians response is brilliant here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr4x9aEWHZc

3. Power and Control freaks
Your potential scares them, they believe in nothing but power and more power and control, they always place their bids with whatever works best for them, ethics, morality and gratitude are extremely self-focused and self-centered principles in their dictionary, they will slaughter you if it works for them and they will just follow you and support you if it works for them.

Their betrayals might trigger resentment in your heart, as I wrote here after experiencing their swords in my back How do people react upon resentment, but believe me they are not worth it, they dont care and you shouldnt care either, these are the roles of the game, never take it personal or go emotional about it.

And if you dont like their ways, just dont be like them.

4. Taking advantage of your naivety, till when?

So, you like to be the specialized, narrow and deep type? You are only doomed to be used. They dont like this type in the club of leadership, they dont treat them as equal. They consistently take advantage of them, which can be a blessing as you can learn power games from the scratch, the more you pay attention and see whats happening, the more you master the game early on and punish them for their misbehavior later.

Learn their ways and let them taste their own poison.

5. Fortify yourself against betrayal/character assassination trials
Sometimes they are undecided about you, they like you a little bit for qualities of passion, dedication and commitment, but you are a possible threat, even some of those who you trusted must see you vulnerable at some point and consider taking a shot. To them, its a no brainer to take on clean shots at you for their advantage when they can.

I had been consistently guilty of leaving close people so much space and probabilities that they might take a clean shot at me, now understanding that without the need to go through its emotional content, it is vital to be always ready with a counter strategy. To ring their phones immediately after, letting them know you are going to get what you want regardless of their betrayal and evil cunning.

6. Hypocrites will take advantage, haunt them and crush them!
Some situations in life are too complex already, its when both sides are trying to avoid a foreseen undesired result that will hurt both, with good intentions and inter-mediation, the whole situation can be fixed. Though, its the hypocrites serving their own agendas and taking on the role of innocence and finding the best results are often are the ones who run the whole show for their advantage.

This scene from The Rock shows how a general who only intended to pressure authority, not to kill fellow soldiers ended up killing dozens of soldiers, why? because some of his mercenaries just wanted to cease these fuckers.

7. Do you know where I live? Then, fuck off!
Barking dogs are most likely not to bite, though the cost of psychological stress causes by others noise can be really exhausting. Enemies and haters will try to overload you with psychological stress, as long as you are not doing anything ethically or morally wrong, its important to cut through the chase, assess potential damage, plan recovery and fuck everything else off!

8. Maybe they dont want the Sheick
If you have a quality you might not realize its a big part of the source of your own power, the best way to take off this quality is not direct hits into it, though, it can be your own manipulation so that youd strip yourself out of this quality.

If what gives you strength is being vulnerable, with great belief in collaboration, community and open source, the best way to haunt you down is to take off the belief in these principles from your mind, and the best way to do that is to force you into situations where you are forced to let go of them as you see them abused.

9. The queen always protects her king, let her in!
For the workaholic entrepreneur, its often relationships that hurts the most, to the extend that we try to avoid having any, though, the presence of feminine energy is essential for growth and sustainability, a loving woman is capable of bringing the best in you, they are extremely hard to find and there are bad investments are often done along the journey of discovery, but if you arrive there, itll be all worth it.

There is only one woman who should be allowed to be more powerful than you, after she earns that, a big part of your job is to allow her to lead you towards your inner being and external goals.

Because in life, just like chess, the queens job is to always protect her king.

10. A warrior doesnt give up what he loves. He finds the love, in what he does!
We are often in a continuous battle with our ego, as I blogged here in Arabic about the ego and how it influences our behavior, its important to acknowledge the ongoing internal battle, try to understand it and always defeat your ego for the sake of doing the right thing.

These mental images might help aspiring CEOs navigate around the though world of business, especially if they come across more experienced and powerful people who want to take advantage of them or completely eliminate them, which had been my case for almost four years now.

As I break through my emotional blocks, I come closer to the image of the CEO someone has hoped and worked so hard for me to reach.


Also published on Medium.

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