I can remember the day just like it was yesterday. My wife, a very dear and trusted friend and myself were sitting around the kitchen table after dinner. The kids were in bed and we were sipping tea.
The discussion for the evening was me. I was struggling big time. The difficulties of my past childhood experiences in combination with the challenges of being a parent and starting a business were overwhelming me. All of my coping strategies were not working very well. I just did not know what to do.
So, one evening a dear older friend came over and sat down with us. I poured out all that was bottled up inside me. Feelings, fears, facts and more feelings came out. I told her what I was doing and what I was feeling. I told her how I was coping. And I took the risk to tell her how I was not really coping well with the pace, the pressure and the expectations.
Finally, I turned to our friend and said, “I don’t know where to go from here. What do you think I should do with all of this?”
She paused and replied, “You need to visit with someone on a regular basis who you trust and who you know gets it on more than one level. There is a time and a place in each person’s life where an ally and a confidante can be very helpful.”
Given she was an experienced counselor, she gave me the name and the phone number of someone who she thought would be a good match for me. I called them and began a powerful journey of better understanding myself and my life journey. The person who I am today reflects the work we have done together over the years.
I share this here to remind all people in leadership positions that having allies and confidantes in your life is essential to being able to survive the pressures of your position. There are times when we will realize truth of the old Zen phrase, “the fish will never discover the ocean”. We need people in our lives at work and at home who can help us discover the bigger picture and who can help us to navigate the changes once we do.
This week never forget that real support in combination with loving and truthful advice can be a transformative experience. Having a network of allies and confidantes is foundational to being a successful leader.