This May during Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve been taking time to reflect on my own mental health. Specifically, how mental health and self-care practices impact my ability to lead my startup company. Entrepreneurship is both draining and exhilarating, all in one – and it’s common for those of us bringing emerging technologies, services and innovation to market to experience the stress and burden of our big ideas and dreams.
Investing in mental health as a social entrepreneur is of critical importance. With goals and ambitions to make the world a better place, you must ensure you’re filled up and in a strong place emotionally, mentally and spiritually to take on the challenge that is changing the world.
This year, I started to realize the drastic impact my self-care practices had on my company – and on my team. So I made it a priority to invest in myself – in taking a break, addressing mental health hurdles, and creating space in my schedule where I could focus on taking a breath and carving out time to reflect. As a result of these simple practices, especially the practice of mindfulness, I’ve been impacted for the better. Here’s how:
Leaders who remain self-aware and are honest about their strengths and weaknesses are inspirational to their teams – and they build trust along the way. This year, as I invest in my own mental health despite the deadlines and urgencies of the startup world, the reward and downstream impact of self-awareness has become apparent. Over time, self-awareness will help you avoid negative leadership slips – as you remain aware to your surroundings, your attitude and your overall state of being. These elements impact the way you speak to your team and the decisions you make – being self-aware is critically important to the culture you’re building. Most importantly, self-awareness helps you stay in tune with yourself and your needs – as a person and a professional.
One of the biggest benefits of strong mental health is the increased ability to embrace humility. There is strength in being vulnerable, and for many entrepreneurs who are used to toughing it out through stress and deadlines, humility and vulnerability come with embracing healthy mental health practices. This has been pivotal in my journey. In addition to building greater self-esteem, self-awareness and overall security, humility helps you embrace the simple truth that your company isn’t the only thing that needs attention – you do, too. By embracing this truth, it will flow downstream to your teams. Humble leaders – those willing to admit mistakes, get vulnerable about their needs and shortcomings, and those who encourage others to do the same can be some of the best leaders to work for.
A key topic in today’s workplace conversation, resiliency is the art of making it through the tough moments of life and coming out alive. We all face them – no matter what industry or company we’re in, we all face hurdles and roadblocks. Focusing on mental health can keep you grounded and well-equipped to handle the unknown elements of life so when they do occur, you have the coping skills and strategies to handle them healthily through resiliency. As a leader, resiliency is important – it sets an example for your team to do the same – and it is fostered overtime by addressing mental health needs and practices.
The outcome of taking time to focus on mental health and self-care cannot be understated. Said by John Maxwell, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” While embracing the ebb and flow of entrepreneurship, equip yourself appropriately by ensuring you’re taking time to focus on self-care, mental health and resiliency. These practices will not only help you improve and sustain healthy mental health and sense of self, but they will make you a stronger leader, ready to equip your team and set an example to be followed.