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Business leader depression it’s a real thing

Fri, April 13, 2018 6:41 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

Business leader depression it’s a real thing

Click here to hear the audio version of this blog post!

Before I get started, let me say I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any other trained and licensed mental health professional.

What I’m about to say is based on my experience, and my opinion so give it whatever value you decide to give it.

In my upcoming book “
ICECREAM For Business Leaders,” I talk about something I call NERP which stands for negative emotional response pathway.

Often when I am working with business leaders, I see people that are going through what I coined as “business leader depression.” I use the term I coined “NERP” to describe how they got there.

The NERP Pathway = Irritation leads to Frustration (a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness), which leads to Anger (lazy or undisciplined actions), which becomes Business Leader Depression

Here is how it works:

Irritation - We have something in our current environment or situation that makes us uncomfortable, or we are not happy about it, this is the irritation. The irritation can be the way that our staff or team members are performing, a lack of structure and processes in our business, or this could be a person that just irritates the hell out of us. Whatever the cause we have something in our environment that irritates us.

Irritation over time and/or intensity leads to frustration.

Frustration is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Helplessness means we feel we don’t have the power or control to change the irritation; hopelessness is when we feel that the irritation will never change and will last forever.

Frustration over time leads to Anger


Anger shows itself in two distinct ways: Lazy actions and undisciplined actions. Lazy actions are when we don’t want to do anything. This could be not getting out of bed, not going into work, not answering the phones, or refusing to read emails that could be important to our work or business.

Undisciplined actions are when we do something other than what we’re supposed to do. Undisciplined actions could be reading emails instead of doing our expense reports, avoiding a task or process by doing something less important in its place, or avoiding a live conversation with one of our team members and replacing it with email correspondence.

Anger over time leads to Business Leader Depression which is when you abdicate your position as the leader and avoid as many leadership situations as possible. 

The most common excuse I hear when someone is going through business leader depression is that they don’t have the time to do the things that will make their business operate better. Even if you tell them exactly what they need to do and build an exact schedule to get things done, they will still find reasons not to do them.

The book will be released on May 1st.

Before May 1st, you can download a training handout at 

Many of you reading or listening to this post will immediately identify with having a mild case of Business Leader Depression. Trust me I know what it feels like because I have gone through it several times since I started my business 14 years ago.

Now the real value in reading or listening to this post is that I am going to give you some steps you can do to control and hopefully eliminate how you are feeling. It all starts with getting control of your emotions.

In the section of my book on
Ego, Emotions, and Expectations, I explain that the best way to control emotions in business is to use items such as a checklist, a workflow, a schedule, or a defined process so that you don’t have to think about what you are doing, or should do, you just follow the process.

The Business Leader Depression Solution

Go back to the source of the irritation. Is there a system that is in place or that can be put in place to help you remove your emotions from the situation?

An example of this can be holding your team accountable for following a set process checklist, counseling them when they don’t follow the checklist, and terminating them after you have counseled them three times for not following the process.

Another example would be to automate some of the marketing tasks in your business when you are irritated by your marketing results.

You could create a Facebook Ad that drives people to your website. Of course, on your website, you have a Facebook Tracking Pixel so you can easily remarket site visitors.

You use Zapier integration to link your email program with your text message and appointment tools, so the site visitor automatically receives an email and a text message with a link that allows them to schedule a short phone meeting with you.

The main thing is to eliminate the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Even small steps and actions will make you feel a helluva lot better and not so overwhelmed.


  1. Recognize the steps involved in the NERP that lead to Business Leader Depression;
  2. Go back to the source of the irritation;
  3. Put technology, checklist, processes, and accountability items in place to help you manage your emotions about the situation;
  4. Start taking small steps and actions to help remove the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  5. As you gain more control over your emotions and actions, you will have much more control over your Business Leader Depression

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