Leaders Get Depressed Too! Here’s How I Beat Discouragement & Became a Better Leader

It’s no secret that leadership can be brutally demoralizing. Even the most passionate leaders experience those days when motivation wanes and it feels like the whole world is pushing back. But as Carey Nieuwhof rightly points out, succumbing to that discouragement is a surefire recipe for disaster. So, how do we navigate these tough seasons with resilience and emerge stronger on the other side?

The Root of Discouragement

Often, what brings us down isn’t the challenge itself, but losing sight of our ‘why’. We become entangled in the frustrating details— endless disagreements over the ‘how’, the feeling of carrying all the weight alone, or even emotional reactivity in the heat of the moment. That’s when it’s critical to step back.

6 Strategies from a Leader Who’s Been There

Carey Nieuwhof offers invaluable strategies for combating leadership discouragement, and I’ve found them to resonate deeply with my own experience as a self-aware leader:

  1. Rediscover Your ‘Why’: Realigning with your core purpose, the reason you stepped into leadership, can be like a jolt of adrenaline in a slump. Tap into your mission, your vision, and remember that your work matters.

  2. Embrace Emotional Intelligence: On your worst days, channel your inner emotionally intelligent leader. Recognize your emotions, but don’t let them sabotage your impact. Cultivate self-regulation to ensure your team doesn’t suffer along with you.

  3. Celebrate Small Wins: Not every victory will be a headline-grabbing change. Find small, achievable tasks to give you that immediate sense of accomplishment. It fuels your spirit for those long-term, complex goals.

  4. Reach Out to Your Inner Circle: Don’t underestimate the power of connection! Having a trusted confidant – someone who understands but isn’t part of your daily work – can provide invaluable perspective and keep loneliness at bay.

  5. The Power of Rest: Exhaustion breeds discouragement. Prioritize sleep – a full night or a strategic nap – to recharge your optimism and decision-making abilities.

  6. Don’t Give Up at the Brink: It might feel tempting to walk away just when things are the darkest. But remember, breakthroughs often happen just beyond that point. Weather the storm, trust your resilience, and don’t be afraid to seek out support when you need it.

Self-Awareness is Your Superpower

Cultivating awareness of your triggers, your emotional responses, and your core motivations is essential to prevent discouragement from taking over. A self-aware leader can recognize these moments and apply the best strategies to reset and re-energize.

Share Your Victories

Have you overcome discouragement in your own leadership? What tools and practices have been vital for you?  Let’s remind each other that we’re not alone in this journey!

Inspiration: For more wisdom on this topic, head to Carey Nieuwhof’s original post: https://careynieuwhof.com/7-ways-to-beat-discouragement-in-leadership/