The social stigma around mental illness prevails despite one in five Americans suffering from some form of cognitive disorder. Perhaps there’s no better way to change people’s perception of mental health than examples of wildly successful people who worked through similar situations.
The people on this list are exceptional leaders and successful entrepreneurs in their respective fields. They’re all well known for their success as entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and innovators. Yet they’ve all had to overcome insurmountable odds and various mental illnesses to get there.
1. Steve Jobs
If you’ve ever read Steve Jobs’ biography, you probably know he was impossible to work with. Jobs actually suffered from a form of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, or OCPD. This led to him obsess over details and design flaws, rather than be compassionate to his partners and employees.
Jobs channeled his obsessive nature to create the best designed products the world had ever seen, but he struggled to make meaningful connections and was an argumentative boss.
2. Howard Hughes
The late Howard Hughes was a lot of things over the course of his illustrious life. He was a wildly successful and well known businessman, investor, pilot, film director, and philanthropist. He also suffered from obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).
His condition took a toll on his physical wellbeing later in life, but his achievements live on in his films and work.
3. Henry J Heinz
In his diary, marketing wizard Henry Heinz wrote that he felt compelled to work himself to the point of burnout. He said he would wear himself out rather than “rust” at home.
Heinz carried a tape measure to measure the length of doorways he passed through and had driven himself to the point of nervous breakdown by his late 50s.
4. Estée Lauder
Beauty tycoon Estée Lauder built an empire that’s still one of the biggest cosmetic brands in the world today. Yet, her mental disorder compelled her to touch people’s faces compulsively. She’d even reach out and touch strangers.
5. Henry Ford
In his effort to overcome his dyslexia, Ford would often repeat actions to the point where they were second nature. This helped him fine-tune his abilities and launch one of the most successful companies in the world.
6. Thomas Edison
Most people know Edison as a scientist. They probably wouldn’t know Edison overcame his dyslexia to launch an electric and engineering company that would soon become General Electric. GE is now a multinational conglomerate listed on the Fortune 500.
7. Richard Branson
Perhaps the most famous business leader with dyslexia is Sir Richard Branson. The British entrepreneur parlayed his success with a student magazine into an international brand and conglomerate – Virgin Inc. Branson often says dyslexia should be considered a sign of potential.
8. Jamie Oliver
Dyslexia didn’t stop Jamie Oliver from becoming one of the world’s most well-known chefs and business leaders. His ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’ chain of restaurants span the globe. Unbelievably, Jamie read his first book at the age of 38.
9. Ingvar Kamprad
Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad has managed to create a globally recognized retailer while battling dyslexia.
10. Charles Schwab
The CEO of Charles Schwab & Co. struggled to take notes in school and even failed English twice. He didn’t realize he suffered from dyslexia till his son was diagnosed with the same condition.
These leaders and entrepreneurs suffered because of their illnesses, yet they persevered to achieve their dreams. Mental illnesses and cognitive disorders are fairly common. Millions of people across the world probably suffer from a known mental disease. Millions more are never appropriately diagnosed.
The social stigma and lack of awareness around these issues has probably stymied progress. Many don’t get the treatment and care they need. Studies show that entrepreneurs and business leaders are particularly prone to mental health issues.
A recent survey showed that nearly half of all business owners suffered from a disorder at some point in their careers. The pressure and stress of creating a business from the ground up could be a contributing factor.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and assistance. Take the time to unwind and exercise to keep stress low. Taking care of your wellbeing could make a massive difference to your progress in business.
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