Guest blog from NG Exec Director, Mark Matthews.
As you are aware, Network Group has recently partnered with Paul Longley, founder of Think Mental Health and Lead Facilitator at Andy’s Man Club to provide the group with Mental Health Awareness training and certification. I was asked if I could write something on mental health to align with this recent initiative. I wasn't as keen as I usually am; I’m very aware that I have spoken numerous times about how I have personally suffered from mental health over the years…and I don't want people to think all I do is bang on about mental health all the time! In truth, I only speak out about my personal experience to spread the word, hoping that others will take some solace that they are not on their own. Hopefully, that's okay with you guys.
I have been a long-time follower of Brené Brown, whose first ever Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, was quite literally an overnight success, now with over 57m YouTube views - if you have 20-minutes free, it’s well worth a watch. Where others feel that a business owner (in fact anyone) showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness, I have always seen it as one of the most powerful things you can do, hence being very open with my own struggles.
I recently spoke to a long-term friend of mine who runs her own successful business. She has been quietly suffering from anxiety and mental health for many years. She called me after seeing an article on social media that Mark Copeman had written about my journey two years ago. She was amazed that I would be so vulnerable with people, especially online. There was no way she would ever do anything like this. To her, running a business was tough enough without saying she was suffering from anxiety or mental health as well. Just what would people think?
My friend's fear is the polar opposite of what I have experienced when I have shared my issues with others. Whether with employees, friends or family, everyone has had the same reaction of thanking me for trusting them and then offering me their support. Then, 99% of the time, they have felt the need to reciprocate the trust you have shown in them by opening up to you about issues in their own lives. Why would they do that? Because they trust you not to judge them because you have trusted them by showing your vulnerability.
Those of you who have read Patrick Lencioni's ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ will recognise the first step (above) on his pyramid to having a successful business is vulnerability-based trust (well worth a Google). He says the fear of being vulnerable prevents team members from building trust and that growing a successful business without trust is impossible. So as business owners and leaders, it's our job to lead, to go first and show the way, which may feel vulnerable but also very powerful.
I believe you have nothing to lose, whether in business or your personal life, the fear of being vulnerable will hold you back, especially if you fear that others will judge you. Think about it, what's the worst that can happen? What if an employee or friend did judge you? Wouldn't you want to know what sort of person they are as soon as possible so that you can keep a wide berth from them? In my experience, I have only ever had the most amazingly positive feedback that has only improved the trust between those I have been vulnerable with.
There is no getting away from the issues that anxiety and mental health cause, as the effects are all around us in our private and business lives. Today, they are being openly spoken about and discussed like never before, and we are so much more informed than previous generations. Network Group has partnered with Paul from Think Mental Health to provide our members with the tools needed to help meet the challenges that anxiety and mental health issues bring to a modern workforce. I wanted to thank those who have already registered for the Mental Health Awareness training. To those that have not decided yet, what have you got to lose?
We’re running three courses across the UK during Q2, we’d encourage you and your teams to get involved
Tuesday 26th April | Newcastle, Hilton Gateshead
Wednesday 18th May | ATG IT, Bromsgrove, B60 3DX
Wednesday 29th June | Sweethaven, Reigate, RH2 7LL