Yes this post is about therapy for founders :), but I had a twitter exchange on therapy with Sean Hannity that actually inspired me to write this post. In a bid to understand my country better, I started following some Trump supporters on Twitter. I added Sean Hannity and then commented on a post in which he jokingly appeared to demean therapy after a slightly inappropriate reply from a “liberal”. As you can see below, I replied.
and then Sean replied to me.
I am reading into Sean’s reply a bit with my title (stole “libtard” from a Hannity supporter who also replied) but I think it’s a great launchpad for a discussion on why more founders aren’t getting therapy. There is nothing more stressful, in business, than founding and running a startup. It’s all-consuming and runs roughshod over relationships, friendships, marriages, family, colleagues and everything that isn’t the startup. Since therapy can make us better people, better CEOs and founders, save our relationships and actually get us through the debilitating stress, why aren’t more of us leveraging it. My recent Twitter poll asked this very question.
The first two responses are definitely related. If founders could visualize the power of therapy, they would move mountains to make the time. So here is my top 10 list of therapy benefits for founders:
- Safe harbor. Legally protected, safe place for you to say whatever you want without fear of social media or judgement. Just think about this.
- Stress relief. Divulging your most stressful burdens with a non-judgemental professional can, on it’s own, miraculously unburden and relieve you.
- Pro Power. Gain objective insights from a trained professional whose sole mission it is to actually make you better at almost everything. They are actually paid by you to do this.
- Couples Therapy. Solve your co-founder “couple” issues either by processing your own feelings or inviting your co-founder to join you for a session(s). http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Therapy-helps-tech-startup-co-founders-6748251.php
- Your Baggage. Understand your own biases and triggers so you can be mindful and be a more effective founder and manager. Why are you so impatient? Why can’t you delegate? Why does neediness repulse you?
- It’s you time. Reserve an hour in your insane, chaotic week for you to stop the noise and discuss whatever you want or just lie there in silence without fear of interruption. Don’t undervalue this, seemingly luxurious benefit.
- Life balance. So no founder can have this but it’s a spectrum and a therapist can help you make your imbalanced life a little less so. Identify what makes you happiest and prioritize.
- Money shot. Since many tech companies have insurance plans that at least partially cover mental therapy vs exec or life coaches, it may be a cheaper option. Therapy can deliver similar benefits to coaching.
- Be proactive. Founders are used to challenging everything so think of therapy as a platform for change. Take charge of your own life. Don’t wait for your friends, partners, employees, board members to tell you to get help.
- ???? Therapy is of course deeply personal, so #10 is for you to figure out.
So the spoiler is I started therapy 10 years ago (once a week), right after I sold my company. Outside of maybe, Burning Man, therapy has been the most important “platform” for change in my life. I just wish someone had compelled me to try therapy when I needed it most, while running the two startups I co-founded. Good therapists don’t need to understand your business or your role, they just need to understand you.
As Hannity says, real people who work hard don’t have the luxury of therapy. It’s precisely these over-worked, over-achieving founders who need therapy the most. I know time is money and money is money but good therapy has an almost priceless ROI. You won’t ever know unless you give it a try. You’d be surprised how many of your friends and colleagues will come out of the closet and admit seeing a shrink when you do. Make therapy your New Year’s Resolution not because you should but because you must. Have a wonderful holiday break, though I suspect many of you will just be working.
Finding a good therapist can be time-consuming. The best recommendations typically come from people you know and respect and IMHO F2F is the ideal medium, but since many of us are impatient, anti-social and love tech, you might want to try these online resources. In full disclosure I have used none of the services below. This article discusses pros and cons of online therapy. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/online-therapy-does-it-really-work/
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