For real leaders, dependency is not a dirty word
We have glamorized the solo, impervious leader at our own peril. Real strength comes from reliance on others.
Many of the leaders I meet have been culturally conditioned to believe part of being a successful entrepreneur or leader is being self-reliant. Science would suggest this mindset robs us of the greatest source of resiliency available to us: reliance on those around us.
Whether the people you trust most include your co-founders, your romantic partner, friends, your family of origin, or others, the people in your life are a greater source of strength and resiliency than all the hours of meditation, journalizing, and exercise you can muster.
The field of attachment theory has a lot to teach us as entrepreneurs about how we might leverage connection with those we love to bolster our own resiliency.
A study conducted by Dr. James Coan, the director of the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia, highlights the impact connecting with loved ones can have on our resiliency. Read along with me in this excerpt from the book Attached.
In this particular study, which he conducted in collaboration with Richard Davidson and Hillary Schaefer, he used functional MRI technology to scan the brains of married women. While these women were being scanned, Dr. Coan and his colleagues simulated a stressful situation by telling them that they were about to receive a very mild electric shock. Normally, under stressful conditions the hypothalamus becomes activated. And indeed this is what happened in the experiment to the women when they were alone awaiting the shock — their hypothalamus lit up. Next, they tested the women who were holding a stranger’s hand while they waited. This time the scans showed somewhat reduced activity in the hypothalamus. And when the hand that the women held was their husband’s? The dip was much more dramatic — their stress was barely detectable. The study demonstrates that when two people form an intimate relationship, they regulate each other’s psychological and emotional well-being. Their physical proximity and availability influence the stress response.
Looking for a way to bolster your own resilience in the face of the crazy ups and downs of scaling a company? It may be time to reconsider the support that is available to you from those you see every day.
The study looks at romantic partners, but support can come from anyone in your life you are willing to let in on what is really happening for you.
Going it alone is bad for business.
Letting those closest to you in so they can really support you makes you a more resilient, grounded, creative leader.
Let your people in.