Managing takes an emotional toll. It is important that you have someone to speak to, listen to you, and help feelings flow through you. The alternative is bottling up anger, sadness, or fear until you and your relationships self-destruct.
If you can, build a support group comprised of your peers. Learn to be vulnerable in front of your peers and the company. Get therapy. Even if you think you don’t need it, you will invariably find it useful.
You are not that voice in your head
Have you ever taken a long shower and had a fictional argument in your head with someone? Or fumed about some situation, letting yourself spiral into a depressed hole? On the surface of it, this is quite silly. You are letting that voice in your head run wild, concocting stories that have little basis in reality.
This voice in your head, the one that tells you that you're not good enough, that you have embarrassed yourself, that someone is out to get you — that voice is just not helpful. Do not dwell on it or let it run your life.
Realize you are not that voice. How could you be? That voice is paranoid, jealous, and irrational; that's not you. The very fact that you can observe it means it's not you.
Learning to quiet that voice, and realizing the stories it comes up with are just that—stories—is a key part of mental health. There are a number of tools you can use to quiet it, like therapy, meditation, and The Work.
Michael Singer delves into this subject in The Untethered Soul, a book we strongly recommend.
Evidence suggests that meditation is a very good thing for your mind. Meditation helps to quiet that little voice in your head, calm your mind, and improve your focus. Studies show that meditation reduces anxiety, lowers your blood pressure, and improves your outlook on life.
The beauty and simplicity of meditation is that you don't need any equipment. All that's required is a quiet space and a few minutes each day. Start with ten minutes at the same time each day and you will begin to form a habit. Within two weeks, you will experience a noticeable improvement in your mood and stress levels.
There are many forms of meditation, and you should explore them to find one that works for you. We find that, at least initially, a guided meditation app is a great way to get started. We have a team account with Calm. Stick an event in your calendar every day to remind you to meditate, and make it public to the company to lead by example.
There's a common fallacy that therapy is only for unhappy people; this is not the case. A good therapist will hold a mirror up to you and help you understand why you feel what you feel—a critical aspect to emotional maturity.
We are strong believers in therapy, having personally experienced its many positive outcomes. Think of your therapist as a personal trainer for your emotions rather than a doctor for your sickness. Understanding yourself, your emotions, and your mental habits turns you into a better communicator, a better teammate, and ultimately a better human.
At Clearbit, we offer everyone ten free visits annually with a coach or therapist through Modern Health. If you prefer to work with a different therapist, that's fine too—chat with your manager and we'll figure something out.
Therapy for leadership
It's vitally important that anyone with a leadership role is emotionally stable and strong. They are responsible for a lot of people's well-being and growth. That's why we require everyone on our leadership team to have some kind of therapy.
I'm fine, I don't need it
There is a common misconception that therapy is only for ill and/or depressed people. That is just not the case, in our experience. Therapy is a tool for self-discovery, discovering why you feel what you feel, what is behind your behaviors and underlying your actions. Therapists are experts at holding a mirror up to you and prompting you to face your fears.
For the longest time I wanted nothing to do with therapy. I was happy, and felt that therapy was only something you should seek if you were sad. On top of that, when I was growing up, talking about feelings or showing emotion was not something encouraged in the household. But I felt like I had a good handle on who I was, and there was not much more to learn.
Oh what hubris! It was only after a series of events completely changed my outlook on life that I decided that, given how wrong I was before about 'knowing myself,' that there was probably more to learn. I found an incredible therapist who has helped immensely with my emotional maturity. Her insights into why I'm feeling what I'm feeling have been crucial to becoming a good leader.
- Matt Sornson, CMO Clearbit
Sorry, I just don't have enough time
We all have the same number of hours in the day, so a time issue is actually a prioritization issue. Like meditation, therapy is time well spent. You will actually save time if you are less stressed, emotionally stable, and understand yourself deeply.