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Steve Larosiliere

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Leadership Lessons from KONY 2012 Creator's Meltdown

Posted: 03/26/2012 3:57 pm

Imagine yourself so overwhelmed with work and life that you end up walking around your town naked, interrupting traffic and pounding your fist on the sidewalk.

That's exactly what Jason Russell, the creator of the widely popular KONY 2012 film, did.

Jason Russell's wife recently released a statement saying that he was ill, dehydrated, under stress and has been diagnosed with reactive psychosis.

As soon as it happened, I thought, why now? Why would he put all his hard work and his organization in jeopardy?

After all, he did produce a video with more than 100 million views and is set to ignite one of the most powerful social movements.

Why couldn't he keep it together?

At any point, anyone with a social mission can lose it. You live and breathe your work. It's so personal to you.

Meltdowns like Russell's can happen whenever you have a mission much bigger than yourself. Such projects include launching a campaign, raising money, producing a film or running for office.

Good leaders know that you have to keep it together for the communities you serve. There is simply too much to lose.

As someone whose mission is to close the opportunity gap for youth, I think there are lessons for all leaders to learn from his situation.

Here they are:

  1. Take care of yourself first: I don't know if Jason Russell was eating well, exercising, sleeping, drinking water or finding healthy ways to deal with stress. Evidently he wasn't. I think this is an important lesson for all leaders. Take care of yourself!
  2. You are not an island: Like Jason Russell, we all have responsibilities. Our organization. Our reputation. Our family. Our supporters and donors. Your actions reflect not just on you, but all the lives that you touch.
  3. Seek a mentor: Find someone that you can talk to. Someone objective who can give you advice and help you through challenging times. I'm sure once the video was released, Jason Russell lost sleep. He stressed out. Talk about it with someone.
  4. Haters gonna hate: Haters are everywhere. You put out work and some people love it or hate it. When critics started investigating the facts behind the video and the work of Invisible Children, Jason Russell may have taken it personally. Haters hate. Your job is to innovate and create.
  5. Have a strong support system: It's easy to be on another stratosphere because you created something huge. Sure, you came up with the idea, but it wasn't just you. You had a team. Surround yourself with people that can keep you humble, grounded and honest every step of the way.
What other leadership lessons did you learn from Jason Russell's incident?
 

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