The haunting feeling of isolation is among the top reasons a business leader will seek out Convene Peer Advisory Groups. It’s really kind of strange how we need connection and community and so seldom find it.
There are several syndromes that hamper the leader in this quest for connection.
Here are the three types:
The leader is lonely and isolated
He/she feels bad about it, wishes it could be different, works through it but knows something is missing and is unaware of an answer to the problem – “I guess that’s just the way it is.” In this case of the leader not knowing the answer, it’s just a matter of them seeking out help or being informed by a friend that things don’t need to be that way. He/she is willing to change once they are shown a better way. They are happy to finally find the remedy for their isolation. All kinds of benefits and blessings become available to that person because they are hungry and teachable. Life improves greatly almost immediately.
The leader doesn’t realize the damage done by the isolation that he/she prefers to live in
They don’t like being reminded of shortcomings, they deny there is a conspicuous gap between the real and ideal self. They don’t want connection, advice or help – “I’m good”. In this second case, the leader needs a gentle shock of some kind to awaken to the reality that they aren’t really “good” after all. Sometimes it comes by way of a scare: a lawsuit, partner split, or near failure when they realize they are not so good after all. However, the best method of informing them is through trusted friends that are able to speak the hard truth and ask hard questions. That friend is a Godsend for this type of leader.
The leader knows better
The leader knows and has experienced that they need help from their community and wise counsel, but they are running from something; exposure to failure, the embarrassment of needing help or the shame of moral failure. They say, “I don’t want to hear it,” or, “they don’t understand”. These are really hard cases. Too often the person never finds his/her way. They are committed to their story and they’re sticking to it, not turning back. It’s sad. Unlike case #2 above, this one needs a near miracle. This is because they intentionally avoid people and wisdom. They intentionally hide from the truth. They intentionally insist on being left alone. Their friends don’t know how to help anymore, how to talk to them, how to convince them. They are victims, and invent excuses and stories that justify their place.
In each case, the leader is on thin ice. Thankfully there is a real remedy. In Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s book, God Will Make a Way, they point out that we are never without help or choices: if we have marriage problems, there are pastors, friends, marriage seminars and family counselors; physical problems can be remedied by a competent doctor; finances can be straightened out by a CPA or CFP; legal issues can be solved by a good attorney; mental/emotional challenges can be helped by a support group; alcoholics can attend AA, and on and on. God has already made a way… we need to be careful not to sabotage God’s plan for us.
One needs to raise their hand, they need to want help and ask for it. We might be blessed by a friend or spouse that can present us with a solution. In the case of #1 above, that is good news; for #2, a little harder; for #3… well this case will only be helped by fervent prayer, if ever. Many of us have seen cases like this that never get help. The end of that movie is predictably painful and hard to watch.
How can we help? There are many resources for business leaders in need or in isolation. The book of Proverbs advises us not to resist wisdom: seek it out, go find it! Even if it costs you all you have, seek understanding, wisdom and wise counsel. The wise person sees trouble coming and makes adjustments in their life to protect themselves and their family. The same verses describe the person who knows the right thing to do, but foolishly chooses not to. We can only hope and pray the hard cases come to their senses.
For the rest of us, there are groups like Convene, precisely designed to deliver the leader from isolation. The Convene Group of a dozen CEOs is the oasis for the leader. There is no guarantee that if one joins an advisory or mastermind group such as Convene that they won’t have struggles, but they will find ample help to guide them through tough times. On the other hand, if the leader in hiding never solves this dilemma, he/she is almost guaranteed to suffer harm.
You only need to watch a few animal kingdom documentaries to learn how predators isolate and destroy their prey. Our enemy would love to keep us isolated so he can “kill and destroy” us as leaders. Don’t let that be you.
If you want to learn more about how to eliminate isolation, or are interested in ongoing business and leadership skill-development, consider joining a Convene Peer Advisory Group.
You can also learn more about work-life balance in this Convene White Paper, “Recognizing and Eliminating the Isolation Factor”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff was President of Aerochem, a $30 million aerospace chemical milling company in Southern California, and was also General Manager of the consolidated divisions of Ducommun AeroStructures, a $105 million entity before becoming a Chair for Convene. His many years managing in challenging conditions gives him a deep toolbox from which to help clients eager to gain answers about improving their company’s performance.