Let this Suicide Radically Shift your Business Perspective

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In March 2016 we got the news that no parent wants to ever get – our 18-year-old son, Coby took his own life.

We were in shock, how could this be? He was always joking and smiling, he went out of his way to make people feel good.  Coby was a star athlete on his way to play soccer in college. How could this happen when our family attended church on a regular basis and went on a mission trip together. How could this be?

I spoke to Coby every day, often about sports and casually about life and yet I never knew what he was going through.

So, what does this have to do with business?  It has a lot more than most business owners and high-level executives will ever realize or even care to know.  The American Psychiatric Foundation reports that 1 in 5 adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness this year, equating to 20% of your workforce.

In one of the finest, most heartfelt business books I have ever read, Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman, he realizes, “My God! We have seven thousand people (who work with us) and each and every one of them is somebody’s precious child.

Chapman goes on to make one of the most impactful statements about “outperforming what they were designed to do.” Technology cannot outperform what it was designed to do, neither can systems or processes. However, people, when properly motivated and in the right environment, can outperform even what they thought was possible.

A UK government report shows that companies with low engagement scores earn an operating income 32.7 percent lower than companies with more engaged employees.  Similarly, companies with a highly engaged workforce experience a 19.2 percent growth in operating income over a 12-month period.

You can in fact outperform your competitors by doing the right things.

So, do we ignore these facts in business or do we invest in our people? Do we seek wise counsel and look for ways to better everyone?

In the two years since our son’s passing, we’ve seen much loss near us and an opioid epidemic that is not likely to ease up until people know that it is okay not to be okay. I was shocked at all the people that shared their family struggles after we shared our story. The bouts of anxiety and depression were everywhere and yet no one wanted to talk about it.

We have also seen some amazing miracles and people’s lives changed when they realize that they were not facing their problems alone.  According to the American Psychiatric Foundation 80% of employees treated for mental illness report improved levels of work efficacy and satisfaction.

True leaders in the next decade are going to come alongside of their teams and help them grow by caring for them. It won’t be easy, as a matter of fact it might be the hardest job you have, but, man, is it worth it when you see the results!

My wife and I hope to be advocates for improved mental health. We hope that Coby has not left this Earth in vain.

If you know someone who is struggling, feel free to reach out to me or my wife Rachelle at rachelle@flyhighcoby.org.  We are not medical professionals, but we can direct you to different organizations that we are working with. We cannot even promise that we will save anyone but I know that helping someone starts with one person reaching out. So here is my hand.

Your employees are an important resource. For assistance in dealing with mental health in the workplace: http://www.workplacementalhealth.org/


Additional Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness:  https://www.nami.org/

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:  https://afsp.org/

Attitudes in Reverse:  https://attitudesinreverse.org/air-business-lunch-learn/

Fly High Coby:  www.flyhighcoby.org