One of the most challenging things about my November 2019 TEDx was talking about the depression that I experienced transitioning out of the military.
The darkness and the lack of purpose ultimately landed me in my bedroom closet wondering whether or not I should take my life. That was a very dark, embarrassing moment for me. It’s something that I still wrestle with.
Even writing about it has me cringing.
I kept telling myself, “No one wants to hear this. No one wants to hear about my challenges with transition or depression. People have enough problems of their own. Go out there and talk about something that lifts them up.”
But what I came to understand after I gave that talk was that I wasn’t alone and I had impacted thousands of people who now felt that they weren’t alone, either. It has shown me the power of leading with our scars. By sharing something that I really didn’t think people wanted to hear, I overcame my own mindset of self-sabotage. I overcame my own resistance.
As leaders, we have to fight the mindset that what we have to offer isn’t good enough. I see this negative mindset at every level of leadership, from mid-level managers to the most senior four-star commanders. Our young people struggle with this mindset daily.
And this is a very dangerous mindset to have. This form of self-sabotage allows us to rationalize using distorted logic to talk ourselves out of our higher selves, our higher purpose, and our higher calling.
What if I had listened to that voice in my head right before my TEDx that said, “No one wants to hear this?” The outcome would have been a lot of people in a very dark place that would not have been afforded the opportunity to realize that they are not alone.
Now, that’s just one small example. That’s just my experience. But what about you? What about your experience? There are people in your life who need to hear from you. Don’t let the mindset of “no one wants to hear this” muzzle your voice. When you have the courage to share your own struggles, it has a profound effect on people.
What I’ve found through my work with Rooftop Leadership over the years is an astounding number of people from different industries and different disciplines who say, “I’m exactly where you are,” or “I was exactly where you are now.”
They find a connection because we all suffer from the pain of life. It’s something that we all relate to regardless of ethnicity or religion or race. We relate to struggle, to scars.
When you hear that little voice that’s telling you, “People don’t want to hear this,” that’s an indicator to go the other way, to lean into it, to press your shoulder up against the dragon and push harder. But, it takes courage.
It takes a different kind of courage to share your scars, to overthrow our instinctual mindset that says, “No one wants to hear this.” Because the opposite of fear is not courage. It’s love, and love informs courage. It’s love of the people you’re sharing with, people you want to help. And that is the mindset you need to have.
That’s the mindset that will carry you through when your knees are buckling and you feel that bile rising up in your throat. That is the mindset that will enable you to push through that little voice that says, “No one wants to hear this,” because the reality is there’s someone in a dark place that needs to hear exactly that message. And if you don’t give it to them, who will?
Scott Mann is a former Green Beret who specialized in unconventional, high-impact missions and relationship building. He is the founder of Rooftop Leadership and appears frequently on TV and many syndicated radio programs. For more information, visit RooftopLeadership.com