Being a leader can be an isolating experience.
The pressure to deliver results can sap your personal life and distance you from your team, and many business leaders don’t invest in protecting their own mental health until it’s too late.
It’s an experience Cameron Worth, CEO and founder of Internet of Things agency SharpEnd, can relate to.
Having started the firm at 26, he spent the first few years totally dedicated to growing the company.
This focus might have helped him notch up an impressive list of clients including PepsiCo, Estée Lauder Companies, Pernod Ricard, Mattel and Nestlé, but Worth, now in his early thirties, says it came at a personal cost.
“I didn’t give myself the time to develop the self-supporting skills that are needed to cope with the pressures of leadership,” says Worth.
Thankfully, a combination of running, therapy and audiobooks have helped him develop those skills. Here’s his recommendations.
“The Middle Passage by James Hollis has been really supportive. This book explores the mid-life period, usually attached to the word ‘crisis’, which can actually happen twice - once around 28 and again at the actual midlife point. They say this is a time when you’re creating your own lens for the world based on your own experience, rather than the lens given to you by others.
“I was creating my new lens while at the same time trying to create a new industry so I was feeling particularly isolated at this point.
“If you’re interested in self-support, then The Chimp Paradox is a good place to start. Listening to this audiobook enabled me to give a name to that little irrational, impulsive voice everyone has - as well as the tools to determine if and how it was being productive or destructive.
“Understanding my own chimp has enabled me to seek more balance and rationality in my decisions as I have trained myself to look for at least two internal opinions first before I make a decision.
“Insights at the Edge is a great listen – especially for those who are interested in self-reflection. Gabor Maté is totally fascinating to me as a speaker and writer, and his episode on this podcast is a crash course in developing internal wisdom.
“I was sent it by my psychotherapist. I am not sure yet how it’s strengthened my leadership skills, but it has made me feel better and more comfortable as a human being (which can only be a good thing for anything else I am doing).
“Finally, The Sanctus Podcast is one to listen to if you’re interested in other people’s stories on mental health. The Sanctus team is doing great things to advocate for mental health support in the workplace and I find their podcasts open, unpretentious and useful.
“Hearing these different perspectives on mental health gives me more of the emotional intelligence I need to perform in my role (I think).”
Image credit: SharpEnd