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F-Suite - CEO Therapy

This time two years ago, I went through one of the toughest times in my Founder to CEO journey. I was
F-Suite
F-Suite - CEO Therapy
By Deborah Okenla • Issue #4 • View online
This time two years ago, I went through one of the toughest times in my Founder to CEO journey. I was 26 when I made the leap to becoming a full time entrepreneur, and rather than spending the first six months enjoying the process, I found myself in a legal battle involving the possibility of my company shutting down, which would take me another six months to recover from. As a result, I became inwards - I started to distance myself from my friends - picked up smoking - and doubted every decision I made.
During that time, I had to sit on panels and talk about my company with a brave face, whilst deal with the voices in my head saying “you’re rubbish, you can’t do this, you’re not worthy, how could you make such a stupid mistake” and it was thanks to my family, community and advisors that I was able to see a way out, and regain a positive mindset. In addition, two other factors played a massive part to my recovery, my Business Coach and CEO friends.
After finding out how I was dealing with post-recovery, one my advisors connected me to a Business Coach. What I loved about her was that she struck the perfect balance between a Business Coach and therapist - I needed just that. A lot of people told me at the time to seek a therapist, but the problem was I didn’t just need therapy for myself but, I needed therapy for my company too as I was very emotionally connected to my company, and saw it as a reflection of my choices, from successes to perceived failures.
My Business Coach was able to create a safe zone for me to freely express my emotional attachment to my company with no judgement. She understood this, and didn’t try force me down the common narrative “you need to separate yourself from your company” - which in theory sounds like great mental health advice, but is almost impossible for Founding CEO’s to do (IMO).
Rather, she focussed on building up my strength up as a better Manager and CEO, in order to deal with difficult situations that may arise during my Founder to CEO journey, which enabled me to find my default position when faced with a challenge, and switch between my ‘personal hat’ to ’THIS IS BUSINESS hat’ (let’s call this the Beyonce to Sasha fierce transitions.)
At the time of the legal battle I leaned heavily on my CEO friends, to share what I was going through and ask for advice - with them I could cut the fluff and have real open honest aka “my house is on fire” conversations. It was comforting to know a few of them had gone through similar situations and could provide practical advice. They also shared their forms of therapy, which worked for them - from detox trips to Hong Kong, spa treatments to Church and wine sessions .
What I learnt from this is that the mental health journey is different for everyone and what works for you may not work for others. My honest advise to you, is to take your time, don’t do what others expect you to do when trying to overcome trauma - therapy, healing and growth is different everyone. If mediation doesn’t work for you thats’ okay, if you don’t feel your best today, thats okay - do things at your pace, in your style, that enables you to truly perform at your best, and from a place of peace - so you can be the CEO you’ve always wanted to be. I share more tips on overcoming hards times on Strategically Winging It Podcast below.
I hope you found this email useful, let me know how you get on by using the hashtag #FSuite.
P.S I’ve been smoke free for just over 1 year. Happy Mental Health Awareness Week

Strategically Winging It  Podcast: Deborah Okenla: Black Womxn, Tech & Community
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Deborah Okenla

Musings and resources for Founders transitioning into CEO roles.

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