All Leaders Have Anxiety. Here's How the Best Ones Deal With It

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The author of a new book offers tips on how leaders can turn anxiety from their worst enemy into their best friend.

On the HBO series Silicon Valley, startup CEO Richard Hendricks vomits a lot. He throws up in a trashcan after fielding an acquisition offer from a predatory competitor, and again when asked to deliver an inspirational speech before 50 hostile programmers.

After one such episode, Hendricks visits a health clinic. "It was just a garden-variety panic attack," the doctor tells him. "Welcome to Silicon Valley. We see people like you all the time."

It's no surprise that anxiety is common among the entrepreneurially gifted, says Sarah Wilson, author of the book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety. "It comes down to brain function: their ability to think beyond straight data and to hyper-connect," Wilson says. People with high levels of anxiety "are able to think very broadly across multiple ideas all at once, which lends itself, obviously, to creating a business."

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