How Depression Helped a Law Student Build a $300 Million Business
By James Mills, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International
It is estimated that each year about 1 in 4 of us will suffer from some form of mental health problem. One of the most common conditions we experience is depression and it is very easy to label this as a bad and negative condition. There are, however, many legends who have succeeded in spite of depression and in the case of someone like entrepreneur Annie Lawless she actually succeeded because of the condition! In the space of five years, Annie went from dropping out of law school to founding Suja; a healthy drinks company, valued at $300 million. So how did she do it?
Depression Is a Warning Sign!
Just over ten years ago Annie was setting herself for a stellar career in law. Bright and ambitious, she was doing well in all her classes yet felt depressed in a way that meant getting out of bed was a struggle. Rather than accept this or cover it over and numb it with food/alcohol or busyness, Annie started to question why she was studying law in order to understand her motives.
Listening to Our Body and Emotions Increases Our Self-Awareness
The process of questioning her motives enabled Annie to use the principle of awareness to understand her situation better. She realised that law wasn’t her passion and yet the fear of upsetting her family through not continuing with her studies was driving her actions.
Imagine doing something you hate, just to please others - crazy, right?!? But how many of us compromise our careers because we are driven by our need to impress and gain approval and acceptance from the people around us? Taking the time to question things because of her depression actually stimulated Annie to pursue her passion for nutrition as she had cured herself of serious eczema when she was younger.
She actually found more meaning and purpose in her life through her own health challenges. How many of us could find our own purpose and passion in our life experiences?
The more we practice the principle of awareness to ask the right questions and understand our motivations better, the more likely we are to get in touch with our passions.
To get you started, here’s a couple of legendary questions to help direct your thinking…
Here's Annie's brilliant 1o minute TED Talk...
You can read more about Annie’s story and how she worked with others to build Suja into a multimillion dollar business in the Inc. magazine article here.