Author: Simon Akers MCIM | Founder of Archmon
I am frustrated.
Frustrated with the seeming rules on creating a divide between work and personal life.
This particular irk was borne from something the other day. I had a chat with another business owner in the industry who, by their own admission, wrestles with their own mental health, and we talked about how still we are frustrated by the notion of ‘better not post on LinkedIn as to not dilute our brand’. Frustrated that I even said it.
It is not binary however. We are not cells on a spreadsheet – we are not always predictable and following of typical logic. We are humans, with an oscillation of energies, moods and feelings who are oftentimes trying to hold it together for our day jobs.
It is an interesting thought. LinkedIn police aside, we share our sunny beer garden pics on Instagram, our occasional musings on Facebook, but LinkedIn is the home of real commercial muscle flexing, showing how bloody smart or humbled we all are in our particular field.
Especially when you are a business leader or self employed – you think you have to continually promote yourself and offering (if a service business/consultancy like I am running), without being unbearable. At the same time, you want the business story to stand up on its own 2 feet, exclusive from any seeming emotional outpour or mental vulnerability. As could that be bad for business perhaps? It is hard working for self as is, without the added pressure of dividing the brain in 2.
I personally have had a whirlwind 3 year since I got out of a place (before I even started Archmon) where I was very ill and in all honesty, had some of the lowest thoughts imaginable. It spurned a shift change in my definition of success and a rewriting of commercial norms. Did some contracting, tried full time work again, not for me. Now working own hours. The value exchange of becoming own boss versus knowing the buck stops with you. A new type of pressure from within, but one I could at least cope with. A new benchmark of earning. lifestyle and with it a soothing humility. I now have a multitude of interests that suit my way of thinking, my energies and hopefully helps sustain a better mental wellbeing, and not all money/career driving either. That and 2 therapy runs, 2 prescriptions, 2 years of trading/client growth, and 1 move out of the hustle and bustle on London later – things are looking up.
This is all my own paddling below the surface above. The swan however, gliding on the LinkedIn surface. must look calm, resolute and friendly right?
The fact that I was nervous to surface this story (and resurface link above to my Mental health ‘opening up’ 2 years ago) before posting means we are STILL NOT THERE in terms of mental health de-stigmatisation and neurodiversity celebration; the snobbery of the platform and business life being celebrated as a cut throat emotionless life is sadly alive and well. I saw this gut wrenching poll the other day that was along the lines of:
‘If someone opens up about their mental health, does it make you less likely to work with them?’.
Words fail me. Thankfully the vast 90%+ majority said no. Although the comments underneath were from typically stuffy policing personnel who said business should be business and LinkedIn is not the place for this. Agree to an extent of course, there’s a lot of BS and irrelevance on here, clickbait and attention seeking humblebrags and other useless polls; the marketing planner in me knows as well as anyone it is all horses for courses. But come on – businesses are human, and humans are always human. The plus point is I now know who the fuck to stay away from in my business life (another soothing reality to get comfortable with btw – the knowledge that you cannot sell in you, your brand or business to everyone, and that is absolutely splendid!).
As it happens, I truly feel I have done some of my best work and engaged some of the coolest contacts, clients and opportunities into my life (including those from neurodiverse backgrounds and mental health products) as a result of this. Also as I am building a business about collaboration and working on own terms and with right kind of brands, it is so much less jarring.
That said, I’m also happy to take the bullet for others to get this conversation normalised too. I myself can sometimes overwhelm people with my energy, and sometimes I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and given my own anxieties and more sensitive nature, will pick up on that and beat myself to a pulp. But I guess neither are you immune to this by the way. But we can be comfortable with this, so I will continue to have the conversation until 100% say NO to that bullshit poll.
This is coincidentally in Men’s Health Week (Men’s Mental Health down under) – which I do not necessarily subscribe to. I feel, like any event, it is great to be recognised as a growing concern, from IWD to Pride, they provide a chance for virtue signalling without any real action or accountable follow-through. But the point is, what difference do these events really make if 2+ years later I am writing like this again and feeling nervous pressing Publish again? Especially as this is first one since running business.
Time is precious. Resources also. Energies even more finite. Do what makes you happy, open up. Be real, and align with those whose appreciation and energies befit yours. If you are selling yourself to a degree, go warts n all. I mean you don’t have to word vomit but do not fear being open, as you will filter towards what is needed from a new business POV, and reject those who, let’s be honest, will be a nightmare anyway. If they don’t like it, then great, on to the next. It is fine. Be comfortable with being you and our own brand.
Let’s get to work, or not. Take an afternoon nap. Have a mental health day. That is fine too.