“The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don't think people want to hear about the last two.” —Elon Musk
Philip J. Burgières was a tremendous success story when he became the CEO of a Fortune 500 company at age 35. Twenty years later, after building multi-billion dollar companies in the oil sector, he could no longer hide behind the facade of accomplishment that kept the world from seeing his debilitating clinical depression. Upon entering rehab, the value of his company’s stock fell by a staggering 10%.
Many would argue that even if we live sedentary lives, we can still maintain sharp mental ability. Asking for help is still a possibility. But every aspect of our lives can make a horrific turn for the worst without strong mental health. Emotional illness can snowball into total catastrophe in almost every area of life.
But Burgières was lucky to know John Sage, real estate entrepreneur. In a conversation they had, Sage let Burgières know that he was far from alone in his struggle with mental health—And from that moment an intimate friendship was forged, as they confided their fears, failures, and disappointments in every aspect of their lives, business and beyond.
After rehab and finding this friendship, Burgières would continue to have immense success in his business. His services as an advisor to other CEOs would become coveted, and he decided to be outspoken about his mental health struggles — Especially as they pertained to entrepreneurship. And though Burgières passed away in 2016, he has been a trailblazer for other leaders and entrepreneurs to be open about unfathomable suffering.
2015 research by Dr. Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist specializing in mental illness among entrepreneurs, showed 49% of the 242 entrepreneurs interviewed suffered from one or more lifetime mental health conditions. This research also showed that 30% of entrepreneurs were more likely to report a lifetime of depression, 29% reported ADHD, 12% bipolar disorders, and 11% reported substance abuse.
These results should make us realize that we need more than a bandage solution to these issues. It’s clear that the same personality traits that make entrepreneurs successful, are the very same ones that can make them topple flat. The higher we climb, the harder we fall. There’s no room to be taken aback by these struggles anymore.
You, and only you, have what it takes to make best use of the tools available for improving your mental health—And then to propel you, your team, and your business to the highest ranks of success. Here are some that The Daily Check-In endorses.
While we may not be able to hire a Dr. Michael Freeman personally, you can still find a professional who specializes in your needs. It may take some searching, but be proactive in finding a professional who is both remedial and forward-thinking in their approach. If possible, someone who can help you both meet and exceed your goals, who is familiar with the challenges of an entrepreneur.
In the meantime, it’s wise to spend time getting very familiar with yourself and your tendencies. Be honest with yourself. What you’ll find is that the assets of your personality function as weaknesses, and visa versa.
Develop the courage necessary to be vulnerable. So often, we find the brightest lights at the darkest of tunnels.
The results have been proven repeatedly: Diet and exercise improvements can boost your sense of wellness beyond what psychiatric medication can. Your body supports you through every endeavor you undertake, so treat it with kindness, respect, and proper nourishment.
Release the notion that it’s impressive to work for countless hours with little to no sleep. This belief is far from true, and will not support you in the long run. If your body is like an elite hypercar, and you expect it to reliably win races at blazing speeds, you must give it only the highest octane fuels.
Working with a personal trainer, nutritionist, and massage therapist will ensure your body is running at optimum levels. Above all else, listen to the signals of your body. If you want to truly live up to your responsibilities as an entrepreneur, you have reason nor excuse to ignore them.
If we want to win the game of mental health, helping others on their journey is key. One study suggested that individuals who supported others had reduced stress response while reducing the stress response of the supported individual.
Helping others without your own agenda can yield incredible benefits to your mental health.
It doesn’t even have to be someone dealing with a difficulty similar to your own—In fact, it can be even more beneficial if it has nothing to do with you. Simply help another with something meaningful to them.
In your journey toward improved mental health, you may just find that you achieve success beyond what you could have ever imagined—All with immensely more personal meaning, too. The turnaround success of Burgières is the perfect example of that very thing.