The Best Leaders Seek Help: Why You Should Too

May 13, 2023
Men gathered around a cold plunge

Mental Health Is For You, Too                 

Thought of the week:

Too much light blinds the eye;
too much sound deafens the ear;
too many spices dull the taste;
too much exercise weakens the body;
the pursuit of great riches leads to ruin. 

The wise attend to the inner truth of things
and are not fooled by outward appearances.
They ignore matter and seek the spirit. 

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

In this week's Dose, I share ways in which we all deal with mental health and how to re-think about getting help.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to kick this off with a bang.

I've learned that mental health comes down to ONE simple thing:

Our perspective.

The quality of our thoughts, beliefs, and how we view OUR world.

That's it.

Is our perspective helping us?

Or is it hurting us?

It's not about changing everything around us to feel OKAY on the inside.

It comes down to how we think, the quality of our thoughts, and what we CHOOSE to make our lives mean.

Whether someone is struggling to create boundaries to separate from work due to FEELING like they will let their team down if they don't respond to Slack messages immediately...

Maybe it's not blocking time to focus on your health because it FEELS like that would take time away from your family.

Perhaps it's being unwilling to go a couple of weeks without drinking because you only have a few drinks and it's 'not a problem'...

If it's not a problem, why is it so hard to stop for a few weeks?

Or you want to start a business aligned with your life's mission, but let fear of rejection prevent you from finally starting.

All of these examples have one thing in common.

A perspective that is keeping you stuck.

One based in fear.

One focused on self-imposed limitations.

What will others think? What if I fail? What will that MEAN about me?

My definition of mental health has drastically changed in the last 4-5 years.

I used to think it was reserved for people in a psych ward.

For emo kids (is emo still a thing?) or those who experienced traumatic events.

Couldn't possibly be for successful men with great jobs, great homes, great families, and making great money with unlimited potential ahead of them...

I thought it was something that only affected you when a parent died or if you had Trauma.

And it definitely could never apply to me. 

It was only for someone else.

For 31 years, I thought feelings made you weak and lifting weights made you strong.

I thought the way to handle ANY uncomfortable emotions was with beer, tequila, and tacos.

And if you did speak up, it meant something was wrong with you, your peers would judge you, and your friends would worry sick about you.

For 4 years, my way of processing mental turbulence was to do a TOUGH workout every day and 1 HARD day of drinking on Saturdays.

I'd hit the gym for the 9am class and be planted on a barstool by noon.

There were times when I'd be out drinking with friends and would feel a tidal wave of sadness come over me out of nowhere.

I'd put my drink down and skip out the door without telling anyone because I felt like I was going to burst into tears at any moment.

At the time, I had no clue why I felt this way, where it was coming from, or what I could do to fix it.

I'm stubborn, competitive, and expect myself to perform at a high level.

So not only did I feel like I COULDN'T tell anyone, I was determined to figure it out on my own.

"The slowest and most expensive way to do something is to do it alone."

It cost me my career and took me 4 years to get out of that dark place.

Of course, I've learned a ton and wouldn't change my experience as it was necessary to get me to where I'm at today.

But if I could go back and tell myself ONE thing I'd say:

"Even the greatest athletes on Earth work on their mental game with someone. You consider yourself a high performer, so why not get help to be even better?"

The idea that I've come to love now is that we need to think of our mental health like we do our physical health.

It takes work, structure, intention, and sometimes hiring someone to help.

Mental health isn't just depression or anxiety.

It's burnout, stress, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, procrastination, negative self-talk, self-sabotage, not sticking to habits, lack of motivation, loneliness; feeling stuck, directionless, or lacking fulfillment; lack of focus, energy, or clarity; trouble with relationships, having zero hobbies, not having fun, or feeling disconnected from others.

And each of these has its own sliding scale.

As men, we need to be tough, gritty, and provide & protect.

I support this.

But where we go wrong is feeling like we can NEVER need help.

That we HAVE to do it alone.

We'll never be our best if we constantly try to do everything by ourselves.

Or bottle it up when things feel off.

The best leaders in the world realize they are better with a strong team.

They know nothing is done in isolation and it's silly to think they can do it all.

They create a great team around them, hire outside help, and explore their own blindspots & weaknesses to improve.

They know that exploring your weak areas doesn't make you weak - it's the path to building strength.

The strongest thing we can ever do is look our fears & insecurities in THE FACE and do something about it.

As my coach said to me, "You can't read the label from inside the jar."

Getting help is NOT a sign of weakness, it's a sign of IMMENSE strength.

Put your mental well-being first.

Tim 🖤

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