A good headline, like a lot of good things in life, will suck you in. This one got me: “How business leaders can use fatigue and depression to their advantage.”
Do tell, I thought, because I’ve been in the working world for more than 30 years and I’ve yet to meet a boss, supervisor or leader who has used fatigue and depression to their advantage. On the planet where I live, depression and fatigue are weaknesses.
Come to think of it, I have never encountered a boss supervisor or leader who ever had to take time off from work because depression or fatigue. That’s only something us worker bees do. So, I had to read this article by Andrew Cave, published on the Forbes web site on Wednesday.
Curiously, the first two business tycoons cited in the article for taking time off apparently didn’t do so because of depression but rather “fatigue.” The first CEO described his “fatigue” experience “like a battery going to zero.” The other described his experience as “temporary fatigue” – “taking a bit too much hay on his pitchfork.”
Never heard depression described like that but I will add it to my list of euphemisms used by people who know they have depression but don’t want to utter the word “depression.”
Then we are given the example of Katarina Skoberne, who founded OpenAd, one of the world’s first crowd-sourcing engines for creative concepts for advertising. When her lender went bust and the banks came calling, she went bust, too. She went from being a young CEO to homeless – sleeping on friends’ couches and forced to sell and pawn her jewelry and designer clothes to “finance my catatonic state.”
Although she describes herself as having depression, no where in the article does she or the author say she had depression. I would have liked that. Still, Skoberne’s comeback is inspiring. She puts into words the feelings and predicament I, too, found myself in.
“First you have one crash, then another crash,” she says. “Then you go through the processing element because as you’re living it, it’s a day-to-day survival fight. You keep going and then once you have survived, that’s when the learning takes over. You have to rebuild your life in a more steady growth state and that’s where you have to reprocess a whole lot of stuff to be normal again.”
“My failure didn’t make me a different person but it brought out a layer in me that was dormant. That kind of traumatic experience will give you two things; a recognition of the emotional components in anything and a deflated ego, which is a good thing.”
“A layer in me that was dormant.” I love that. I love that way of looking at depression as a tool that awakened a good slice of my psyche. The slice that feels empathy and compassion. The slice that makes me right-sized. The slice I like about myself.
And that, my friends, is how anyone – a CEO, homemaker or recovered alcoholic journalist – can use fatigue and depression to their advantage.