Staying Sane in a Crazy World

Watching our presidential election unfold someone from another planet might say… “It’s crazy down there and maybe getting crazier.”

I’m frequently asked by my executive clients, ”How can I stay healthy and reasonably happy and optimistic with so much chaos and uncertainty.” It is a fact, that one of the key personality characteristics of effective leaders is their ability to maintain an optimistic outlook in the face of adversity. However, senior executives and business owners, in particular, are in a difficult spot relative to maintaining optimism for a number of reasons:

  • They are acutely aware of the precarious nature of their businesses.
  • They are responsible for holding the vision of the company in the face of uncertainty.
  • Employees mostly bring problems to their bosses, so bosses are exposed to more negativity than the general public and therefore are more vulnerable to the depressive effects of that negativity.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it’s been my experience that most executives do care about people — few are like those non-feeling cutthroat caricatures portrayed in the media. Executives spend a great deal of their time carefully juggling the egos of their direct reports and other stakeholders. However, most people expect that the executive can handle it (whatever “it” may be) so few employees and far fewer investors worry about handling with care the boss’s ego.
  • If the executive is a CEO, he or she has to deftly handle the often oversized but easily injured egos of board members and other investors.
  • It’s lonely at the top. The point of most vulnerability for CEOs and business owners — they rarely feel safe in confiding with anyone within their company about how they really feel… and it’s not really appropriate for them to do so regardless.

I’ve had plenty of practice in the art of maintaining a healthy attitude after spending more than a quarter of a century working knee deep in other people’s and my own stuff (a polite term). I have some suggestions for keeping sane and healthy.

The famous late psychologist Carl Jung once said that if you want to change the world start with yourself. With that in mind, it makes sense to practice good self-care because the actions of executives are under intense scrutiny from all quarters. Your actions do say more than your words. When you sneeze, your employees imagine the worse. So, if you want your employees to have a healthy resilient attitude … start with yourself.

Key points:

Carl Robinson, Ph.D.,

Managing Principal, Advanced Leadership Consulting

carl @

We help maximize the effectiveness of individuals and organizations by helping them improve their ability to lead, work together, select and develop their people.

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders.

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