For a long, long time, I struggled with being really hard on myself and never being satisfied with what I have accomplished or things that I have done.
Despite what people viewed from the outside as success – between my career at Dow and Hemlock Semiconductor, being married, now at this point for 36 years, and having a wonderful family with seven kids who are all successful – I always felt like I was a failure.
I felt that I should have been a better husband, a better father, a better friend and so on. I was granted a lot of gifts in the role I’m in. Despite having what many people consider to be a successful career, I considered it to be a failure because I didn't maximize the gifts that I had been given.
There were people around me that would say, “What the hell are you talking about? That’s crazy.” It got to the point where I would go home in tears from work, thinking that I was a failure and that I wasted all my God-given talent. I felt I should have done so much more with what I'd been given.
I had also convinced myself of this weird and very damaging self-imagery. I used to call myself a beautiful freak. That stemmed from the belief that while I had been given some really amazing gifts that allowed me to do some really amazing things with my mind, I lacked in other areas.
I think of everyone in the world on a bell curve distribution. If you take the entire population, the vast majority of people are kind of average at everything. The more exceptional you are with certain things, the more flawed you are with other things. So, I saw myself as super exceptional at certain things and super flawed at other things.
While people liked being around me at work, I helped others in their success, I was a good coach and mentor, and I cared about my employees – I believed at the core of it, I wasn't really a very likable person. And that's a miserable way of going through life, really.
Ultimately, I decided to go to therapy about six years ago. Through a lot of time and hard work, I've gotten through a lot of that. It's helped me be more realistic about who I am and what I've done. I have a much more balanced view of myself and the world we live in. Now, I exist more in peace and happiness, instead of constantly never being satisfied, no matter what I did.
I still go once or twice a month; not that I’m in the same space I was in before. It’s just really nice to go and have someone to talk to who will listen in a non-judgmental way, no matter what you say.
I think the process of going to therapy has helped me be much more patient. I find I’m much more accepting of situations and much less reactionary than I used to be. It’s made me more aware of certain situations and the impact I have on others. I don’t respond negatively or quickly without thinking things through and it has helped me to have a much more balanced view of the world.
There’s nothing to be afraid of about working through situations or hard times like this. It’s been tremendously beneficial for me and I’m someone who many people consider to be a successful person.
A lot of people go to therapy and my family has as well. My wife has gone to therapy and we have seven kids and a number of them have gone as well. It’s allowed us to be at peace with where we are and better able to handle certain situations. I would absolutely say that it’s been a positive and fruitful experience for all of us.
It's also given me the impetus to do some things I probably wouldn't have done before. One of the things that my therapist has really encouraged me to do is focus on things that make me happy.
With therapy, there have been a lot of times that my therapist pushed me to do things I may not have normally done without some encouragement and helped get me out of my comfort zone. I think it’s been very beneficial when it's all said and done.
Retired CEO of Hemlock Semiconductor