What is Courage?
- April 16, 2010
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Ben Horowitz writes in “Four Things Some VCs Do That I Don’t Like” one thing in particular which really resonated with me:
VCs often confuse marginal social courage with real courage. For example, they think CEOs who fire people easily are tough. I’ve fired dozens of people and laid off hundreds. None of them was easy—not a single time. Having an easy time firing your loyal employees indicates a lack of courage and a lack of leadership. More specifically, it indicates a lack of willingness to really understand the negative consequences of those actions. If you fire people easily, you likely lack the toughness to look in the mirror.
(My emphasis on the last sentence).
This statement gives me great insight into the character of Mr. Horowitz. Because firing people *is* hard. And when you have to do it (for performance or for financial reasons), you do it with heavy heart. As he says, courage isn’t doing things easily. Courage is doing the hard things even though they’re hard, if they have to be done.