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E43 | Mental Health and CEOs: Coach Kevin Lawrence on the Secrets of Having It All

Today’s guest is Kevin Lawrence, author, speaker, strategic advisor and coach to entrepreneurial CEOs and business leaders around the world. With his deep knowledge of the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up, combined with his own methodology developed over the last 25 years, Kevin has helped countless leaders to build high-performance leadership teams, expand into new markets, attract profitable customers, and increase productivity and profits.

More recently Kevin has written a book, Your Oxygen Mask First, which features 17 practical steps for leaders and CEOs to follow, to achieve success whilst maintaining balance in the rest of their lives.

It’s this book as well as Kevin’s other observations of CEOs that we discuss, so join us on today’s podcast:

  • Learn how Kevin ended up becoming a coach
  • Why founder CEOs all suffer with similar problems
  • Why things in business are counterintuitive
  • Mental health issues are non-discriminatory
  • What to look out for in someone who is about to have a breakdown
  • How Kevin masters his own mental health issues and the resilience rituals and tools he uses to overcome them
  • The lessons he’s learned along the way to be a successful leader
  • Why you should learn like your life depends on it


Author, speaker, strategic advisor, and coach to entrepreneurial CEOs and business leaders around the world, today’s guest, Kevin Lawrence, helps leaders to build and maintain enormous success in business—balanced with living a full, rich life.

Kevin has combined his knowledge—garnered over 25 years helping leaders to build high performance leadership teams—into an easy-to-follow book. The book has 17 practical steps and a workbook, as well as an executive development programme that encourages readers to put pen to paper to focus, think and process what they need to do in order to get where they need to go.

Today, however, he is discussing mental health and why it is so common in leaders and how to deal with it.

Mental health issues are not discriminatory

The number of mental health challenges that CEOs and leaders at the top of their game have are incredible. Mental health issues can happen to anyone, but it’s incredibly common for high-performance players to suffer, because as they try to keep up with their business as it grows, sometimes “things get weird” in their brains, as Kevin puts it.

Mental health issues don’t just affect one or two people, they don’t just target weak people, they happen to the strongest people. But sufferers are reluctant to talk about their struggles as it’s seen as bad for the brand.

Kevin uses the analogy of a high powered car to explain how he views CEO burnout—if you drive a car for a long distance, ragging it all the way without topping up the water to cool the engine off, it will understandably have a melt down. And our brains are no different.

Everyone is one or two life events away from a mental health issue

Kevin has learned what to look for in high performance leaders on the brink of a breakdown—simple things such as:

  • cancelling last minute
  • bailing out of social events
  • bailing out of meetings
  • signs of alcohol addiction getting stronger
  • sleep disruptions
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • frequently getting sick
  • becoming rude or unpleasant to work with

Kevin knows these things, and knows what to look out for, because he has suffered mental burnouts regularly throughout his life.

Kevin struggled with mental health issues pushing himself hard his whole life, burning out seriously for the first time at age 24. He was a high performance sales rep at the time and it took him about two years to recover from this episode. It wasn’t that he was bad at his job, or that he couldn’t cope—in fact, the opposite, he was loving it and having the time of his life. But he didn’t stop to establish a sustainable work/life balance.

Now he reckons he burns out regularly, every 18 – 24 months, but he’s learned how to recover in a couple of months as opposed to a couple of years, because he’s mastered the art of burning out and bouncing back, and he knows exactly what he needs to do to get back on track.

Resilience rituals for the body, mind and spirit

Recovery from a mental burnout involves finding ways to calm the body, mind and spirit. Kevin calms his body through exercise and getting out and doing activities in nature. Writing and free journaling help his mind. And for his spirit, he resets the balance with travel with friends and family and through racing—going out in high horse-powered machines, going very fast, and having lots of fun.

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