14 Dec The Unique Support of a Clinical Psychologist Serving as an Executive Coach
“I’m afraid of failing you.”
He looked away from his partner with tears in his eyes while continuing to speak. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and more than not wanting to fail myself… I don’t want to fail you.”
The tension was palpable.
His partner nodded and exhaled slowly. “I’m glad you told me this. Now our recent interactions make much more sense”
Would you be surprised to know that this conversation could have happened in either one of my couples therapy sessions or in one of my executive coaching sessions?
As both a clinical psychologist and executive coach, I’ve had the privilege of working with people from all walks of life. These people include numerous startup founders and entrepreneurs. The common denominator between them is the knowledge that things can be better than they are now, and that self-awareness is the key to unlocking success.
The entrepreneurial journey is exhilarating – filled with passion, innovation, and the thrill of turning dreams into reality. Of course the journey is rife with challenges. The stressors that startup founders face are demanding in very particular ways. And yet, looking through the lens of successful relationship building makes these challenges very familiar.
Let’s have a look.
Launching a startup involves a rollercoaster of highs and lows. From securing funding, to dealing with unexpected setbacks, the pressure to make critical decisions, the fear of failure, and the relentlessness of all of the above takes a toll on mental and emotional well-being. This is especially true if you aren’t practiced and equally relentless at paying attention to your own energy budget.
The process of dream building is often lonely. The weight of responsibility, coupled with the lack of a traditional support system, often leads to feeling isolated. This, in turn, breeds self-doubt and amplifies the stress associated with decision-making. Who do you turn to in those moments? A Board member? A family member? An old colleague?
Startup founders are known for their ruthless work ethic. Because of that trait, boundaries between personal and professional life blurs, and unwinding and recharging seem like a fantasy. Balancing the demands of the business with personal well-being becomes an impossible equation. This often results in burnout and burned relationships.
Startups operate amidst constant change and uncertainty. Ambiguity surrounding market trends, competition, and the future of the business is overwhelming. Founders have to adapt quickly, a skill that requires mental resilience and robust coping mechanisms. Who is helping the founder keep an eye on themselves, when their attention is understandably turned towards the tasks at hand?
The stressors that startup founders face is immense. Here’s how they can benefit from the support of a clinical psychologist serving as their executive coach:
Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness Expert
Startups thrive when leaders possess high emotional intelligence. Clinical psychologists are trained to enhance a founder’s self-awareness, enabling them to manage their emotions effectively and build stronger, more collaborative teams. They can help founders navigate stressors and help them attend to their energy budget, which is crucial for effective leadership.
Through evidence-based strategies, a clinical psychologist can assist founders in honing their decision-making skills. This includes managing ambiguity, dealing with uncertainty, and making choices that align with both personal and professional goals.
A clinical psychologist can work with founders to establish boundaries and create a healthier work-life integration. This, in turn, contributes to sustained performance and prevents burnout.
Stress Management and Resilience
Building resilience is a core aspect of coping with the pressures of entrepreneurship. A clinical psychologist can provide tools and techniques to manage stress effectively, fostering long-term well-being.
The journey to building a business is challenging. And it is essential to recognize the value of mental health in achieving sustained success.
Having a trusted ear who is reliable and shows up for you in those moments can be life-changing. Engaging with a psychologist who is also an executive coach is a strategic investment in one’s mental and emotional fitness, crucial for navigating the unpredictable terrain of entrepreneurship. If you’re a startup founder, consider reaching out to a clinical psychologist who understands the intricacies of your journey and can provide the tailored support you need.
If you need help in finding the right person for you, I’m happy to be a resource. Remember, your well-being is the foundation upon which your startup stands.