I’ve been surrounded by good leaders my whole life. From an early age, I learned important lessons about leadership from my dad — the importance of getting people out of their comfort zone and helping them face their fears, setting a good example, and making people feel safe.
I went to West Point and learned a lot about leadership, and then learned a lot more when I had the privilege of leading soldiers in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of the important leadership lessons I’ve learned though came recently from my therapist.
I’ve been going to therapy for 16 months now — every Friday for an hour. I’ve grown so much as a person by committing to therapy and showing up week after week — especially on the days when I don’t feel like going.
My therapist has helped me immensely with my mental health and my struggle with depression. She’s helped me own it and not be embarrassed by it — and to find the help I need.
I used to think I had to be perfect to be an effective leader. Or at least for people to think I was perfect. To show no flaws, to hide certain emotions, and to not talk about some things showing the human side of me. Through our sessions, my therapist has helped me embrace who I am, instead of who I think I’m supposed to be. Embracing my full self, flaws and all, has helped set my soul free to fly — and made me a better leader.
Being a leader in my family, at work, and in my community means being authentic and embracing my full self. It means not hiding things like the fact that I struggle with depression and take medicine to help with it. That I go to therapy weekly and cry about a lot of things.
Learning to embrace my true self and not hide it from others has made me a better leader in all areas of my life. So to my therapist, thank you for that.
A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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