A casestudy with Michael: Why is he feeling this miserable?

This man is sitting in front of me, completely lonely and unhappy. If I would ask any random person from the street to judge this situation, they would say Michael is just a cry-baby. He arrived in his Mercedes S-class limousine, wears a ten thousand dollar suit and a golden Rolex on his wrist. Nothing to complain about right? 

He felt good in times of success, simply because he was recognised

Well superficially you might be right. But inside this man, there is only darkness. ‘I’m so incredibly unhappy. I wouldn’t mind to end my life and just stop the misery.’ 


Michael is a CEO and grew several companies for years now. In his most recent job he worked on the IPO, which means an Initial Public Offer. Companies do this when going to market and giving out shares. Last year alone, he made 200 million dollars for his company. So Michael must be thrilled right? Well he’s not. 


Growing up was not easy for him. His parents had a terrible marriage and his father was always working. When Michael reached the age of nine, his parents divorced. His mother was extremely protective and always over-cuddled young Michael. He grew up with this idea that he was special. 


In school he had to convince people of that idea, because they could not believe him. Luckily he was extremely smart and fairly good looking. So he created this self-image of a strong, vibrant, all-knowing person who you would go to in times of crisis. 


Remember Leadership Lessons #2: Necessity? People started to look up to Michael and accepted him as their leader. For a while. Michael felt recognised, but always conditionally. After his work was done, people would spit him out. Because if he was not in charge, he was not a very pleasant guy to be with.


His relationships always ended within 6 months, after the first rush of falling in love was over. Michael was never happy. He felt good in times of success, simply because he was recognised. But he was ultimately looking for unconditional love and recognition. But simply was not able to find it. Or accept it, when it came by. He probably would no recognise it when presented just in front of him. 


‘I just find this whole environment toxic and don’t know how to end this endless journey of more, more and more’. 


This man, was trying to fill a water-well with air. It just is not going to be full, ever. We have worked on this for several weeks, until he ultimately decided to leave the corporate world. It is an endlessly destroying world. 


Connecting with a great psychiatrists, we also decided that he should try some anti-depressants. We will come back to this in a later episode. But a shortage of certain neuro-transmitters, can be caused by both nature and nurture errors. In this case, Michael would chemically be unhappy for the rest of his life. And this is why we have intervened and tried to reset this balance. 


Right now he is in France, running a B&B with his new girlfriend. They are together for 1,5 year now. Fingers crossed…


Symbiotic attachment is crucial is the development of ones personality. All successful leaders, writers, scientists and sportspeople show a typical symbiotic detachment in different forms and scales. 


Read more about symbiotic attachment in Leadership Lessons #3: Symbiosis

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