Executive Depression: A Hidden Problem that Can be Overcome

The highs and lows of business, combined with the pressures to succeed from within an organization and in our own minds, are a breeding ground for depression.  Many executives feature typical “A” personalities where there is a constant need for new challenges and also new rewards.

Many years ago there was a book published with a title that jumped off the page to me: “If I Am So Successful, Why Do I Feel Like a Failure?”  I don’t recall the author, but the title was enough to ring an alarm bell in my head that continues in the distance even today.  The book tackled the problem of hidden depression among high achievers.

The naked pursuit of fame, wealth, personal attention and achievements. and power can become a powerful weapon that dominates your mind and your behavior blocking out the need for moderation, humility, reason, and balance in your life. It is like a drug, in that unless you are constantly fed new challenges, new victories, new accolades, and new rewards will drag you down to depths of despondency.  All that matters is what lies ahead, not what you have achieved.  Past victories are cast aside as “luck” or downplayed as less than desirable then the challenge or goal that lies ahead.

Sadly marriages, families and friendships often suffer fallout from this problem.  Marriages especially suffer as often successful people pursue extramarital relationships as additional “conquests” and as further validation of their success and personal appeal.  Love has very little to do with it.

Add to this mix the jealousy or the success of others (fed by social media) and the fear that what you have achieved is not good enough and you start to understand how many executives feel depressed and are unhappy with their work and their lives.

It does not have to be that way.  There are professionals who can provide counseling to help you manage this problem but for me a relationship with Christ has made the difference.

As I have grown in faith I have learned humility, patience, and the value of family commitment. I have also understood that I am a special creation, loved by God despite my faults, and designed to live a full  giving thanks for every blessing no matter how small.  I have found peace in who I am as a unique creation, without comparison to anyone else, and without jealousy or envy for what others may have.

Best of all I know that the race I must run is not for material gain and personal fame, but a race to live a life pleasing to God so that I may inherit my birthright: eternal peace and joy in heaven with my Creator.

If you are feeling depressed today, open a Bible and find a Word to refresh you, redirect your steps, and bring you peace.  I’m praying for you!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.      Hebrews 12:1-3

Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.  Romans 12:12

No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13




Peace in the Family: Yes, it is Possible!

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Proverbs 20:3

I am fortunate to live with five women.  In addition to all the wonderful blessings that brings to my life it also means we occasionally are knee-deep in drama, strife and hurt.

Anger, bitterness, wrath, and jealousy find a way to poison every family and every relationship.  It is a fundamental flaw that arises from our prideful nature.  The “flesh” blinds us to our obligation to love and to be merciful as Christ loves us and offers mercy despite our sinful ways.

The absence of peace in a family, even in a work family, can make for some awfully painful days and nights.  Peace is possible.  Peace is preferable. Peace is what God wants for us.  It is possible for you, your spouse, and your children to deal with anger (a natural emotion) without sinning.  So then, how can we control our behavior to prevent us from using anger to accuse, provoke, and harm one another?

Having a relationship with God is the foundation to build better relationships with those in our families and at work.  First we need to understanding how God had every reason to choose wrath, anger and separation to deal with his rebellious creation yet gave his Son to die in our place and therefore receive mercy, grace and love instead.  Every since Adam and Eve, humankind has thumbed their collective noses at God.  For thousands of years God waited for his creation to get straight yet every rule was eventually ignored, every blessing eventually forgotten.  Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom were examples where God lashed out yet saved a remnant in the hope that we would change our ways.  It took Christ’s sacrifice on the cross however to finally build a passable bridge for humankind to return to the Father.

It is easier for us to forgive dinner being burned, to pause before cursing out a child who comes home late, and to be merciful when the car has a mysterious new dent when we understand how much God has overlooked in us.  If we also realize that God created each of us in His own image, and expects us to treat one another with the same unconditional love Christ showed to us on Calvary, we may find a slow path to anger.

There are times, I confess, when something my wife does or does not do causes me to get resentful and even angry.  When this happens, many times I make myself think about how Christ would expect me to respond.  I also think about how she and my children are gifts from God and if one were to treat a gift with disrespect you are essentially disrespecting the gift-giver. What an anger killer!

At the office, when you find an employee has done something to hurt a valuable client relationship it is easy to go from friendly to “your fired” in a matter of seconds.  Yet over the years I have checked my work anger by remembering that we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and boy have I done some dumb things in my career!  Now my only concern is “how do we fix this, together, and prevent it from happening again.”

In the end we are not perfect.  We will sin, we will get angry, we will fail.  Yet when we try to live Christ-like, and we go to scripture to seek God’s help in controlling our emotions, more often than not strife is eliminated or at least minimized.

There is an old song that goes, in part, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”  If the world were to watch a video playback of the last 48 hours of your life, would they see someone at home, at work and at play that they could admire?

Invite God into your life. Strive for peace at home and at work.  Be slow to anger.  Avoid provocation.  Use your words to lift up not beat down,  Find the positive in everyone no matter the situation and circumstances.  Correct with love and not violence.  If you can master this lesson I can assure you that peace and joy will be more abundant around you.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:16-18

The acts of the flesh are obvious… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions.  Galatians 5:19-20

Finally, brothers, rejoice.  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  2 Corinthians 13:11






It’s the Little Things that Count

I have spent countless hours in the past in pursuit of the big deal, the next idea, the better job.  In every pursuit my focus was singular and the related stress, anxiety, distraction and consumption of time took something away from my spouse, my children and my friends.

I found it so easy to rationalize  my absence from home (physically and mentally) by telling myself that either “I am doing this for them,” or “after this one I will have the freedom to really enjoy my life allot better.”  Fortunately I awoke to the real truth.

The real truth is that when we forsake the “little things” such as investing in our spouses, our children, our parents and siblings and our friends, we are choosing to ignore the most important aspect of our lives:  the intimate and eternal need to love and be loved.  Not the love for work, or money or material things.  The type of love that can be returned, received, and deposited into our memory banks and that feed our desire for meaning and purpose.

For all that I have accomplished, nothing on my resume defines the real me.  When I look at my wife and my children, when I sit down with my sister and my parents, and when I take in a ball game or dinner with close friends I experience the joy of knowing I have a loving, purposeful existence.  When my daughter hugs me and says “thanks for spending some time with me dad,” the feeling I get is more powerful than any client, fee check or award I have achieved.

Somewhere along the way too many of us have been tricked into believing that love is weak, distracting and foolishly interferes with our goals to get ahead.  So many in my circle have broken marriages, distant children, and lonely lifestyles.  What good is it to love in a NYC penthouse alone?  How meaningful is it to surround yourself with people who are there only for the money, fame and power (as long as it lasts) but could care less about the real you?

God hard-wired us to need love more than any other experience the world has to offer.  Without it we are empty, sad, and lonely.  No job or bank account, no thrilling business deal can make that go away.

Take stock of your life.  How much are you investing in the “little things” that bring the real happiness we were all created for? Find the right balance.  Take the time to stop and get off the merry-go-round for a bit.  Slow down and love.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5