The Value of Sharing Struggles

Jul 02, 2024

This week, I started reading Reflections at the CrossRoads by my friend Ken Bramble. Ken’s book is a collection of his daily journal entries as he battled anxiety. If you spend any time with Ken, you’ll see a well-spoken, confident, and joyful man. You’d never question how much he cares deeply about his family and about his customers when you see his eyes light up talking about them. You wouldn’t know about his struggles if he didn’t choose to share them. Ken chose to be vulnerable, and I believe that has helped many people who face similar battles.

It's tough to tell people when you don't handle a situation as well as you want. It's something I’ve struggled with. A part of my job is finding and creating new opportunities. These tasks are rarely easy, and I try not to show how much they beat me down with inevitable doubt, constant pushback against change, and the non-linear path toward success. I’ve come to believe that is a mistake.

Being honest about how hard the journey can be not only lowers our own stress but I think it can also lower the stress for others. That honesty leads to faster learning and deeper relationships. We compete in business and in sports, but in life, we can all win.

When we share our struggles, we open the door to real connections. I believe people appreciate honesty and vulnerability because it makes them feel less alone in their own challenges. Ken’s willingness to share his battle with anxiety has likely made a significant impact on those who read his journal, helping them understand that they are not alone. It’s easy to look at someone who appears successful and assume they’ve had a smooth journey, but when they open up about their struggles, it creates an avenue for empathy and understanding. It reminds us that everyone has their own battles, and we’re all human.

Keeping our struggles to ourselves can create unnecessary stress. It can feel overwhelming when we think we’re the only ones facing those kinds of difficulties. Sharing these struggles can relieve that burden, as we realize that others have faced similar challenges and have found ways to navigate them.

I started considering the times that I’ve been able to unload that stress the most. It’s come at times that my wife Michelle and I have spent time talking about the things I was working through. She honestly doesn’t really know what I’m talking about (not a negative, it’s just not the kind of work that she does), but it helps to say it out loud. The other times are when I spend some time with friends over a drink as we talk about our challenges, goals, and dreams. When I’m surrounded by driven people that want to be better, it helps me, and hopefully them.

That leads me to this week’s challenge… share a challenge you’ve overcome. Start with work but expand from there. Take a chance, admit your struggles and failures, and let someone else borrow your diploma. By sharing our experiences, we can help others feel less alone and more capable of handling their own difficulties. Whether it’s a project that didn’t go as planned, a personal goal that took longer to achieve, or an everyday struggle you face, sharing these experiences can make a world of difference.

I’m thankful that you went to work today, that you took the time to read this, and that you’re a part of what makes the world wonderful.