My bank account was dry, a few bridges were burned, and a family didn't get the help I promised. I had friends on the sidelines waiting for the call I told them I'd give when I needed help. I had people in my corner ready to step in and help out. But I missed it. My plan to change the world had gotten caught up somewhere between having too much on my plate, a youthful naivety, and the pride found in trying to do absolutely everything on my own.
I was a lonely leader.
Maybe you've been there before. If you haven't, it's likely that you or someone you know has been there before, is there now, or will be there at some point down the road.
A lack of real, authentic community is not usually something you bring up at the networking event you're attending or the dinner you scheduled with the guy thinking about investing in the idea you claim will change the world; yet the lack of true friendship in leaders trying to make a difference in the world is downright crippling.
The National Science Foundation recently reported that 1 in 4 Americans said they have no one with whom they can talk to about their personal trials or triumphs. And if family members are not counted, that number doubles to more than half of Americans who have no one outside of their immediate family with whom they can share their confidences.
Let that sink in.
Do you feel it?
That means there are likely people you brush shoulders with, have conversations about, take out to coffee, or talk to about sports or weather or how terrible of a human Donald Trump is that feel isolated, not cared about, or down right alone.
It means there are people with whom you do life and perhaps consider to be a close friend that feel as if you are not someone they can approach about family drama or health concerns or financial burdens.
When you combine this reality of loneliness and seclusion with the burdens of running a business, maintaining a home, taking care of family, and making sure that life in general doesn't hit the fan, the demands can be unhealthy. So unhealthy, in fact, they could become deadly for your business, your family, and perhaps even your own life.
The cost of lonely leadership is high.
But where do we start? How do we step out of the boxes we build around our routines and punch lists? How do we overcome stereotypes and break down the walls of competition and move past the pride that says we can do it all alone?
We must remember the cost. We must remember that people are dying a slow and tedious death because of work that is begging to be shared. We have to understand that souls are being crushed as feelings scrape at the walls of our hearts, begging to be felt and heard and understood. We must remember a few things:
1) The world needs a teammate; not another superstar.
2) We can't simply include others into our lives, we must involve them in who we are.
3) Authentic community provides you with your greatest resource: other people.
If the cost of lonely leadership is high, the reward could be eternal. Authentic, connected community can be the life vest for the person sitting next to you. True friendship is a step that could lead people close to you towards business growth, personal growth, family involvement, and maybe even eternal life.
What is keeping you from true friendship? Leave a comment and let's keep one another pointed towards meaningful relationships and authentic community.