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“I hit rock bottom when I was in college. I lost my will to live” Dan shared candidly when I ask him about a significant turning point moment that influence his professional development. In hindsight, he is able to see now the biggest blind spot that eventually caused him to hit rock bottom was the lack of self- awareness in his own feelings and thoughts, which eventually lead to a perpetual buildup of depression.

In the workplace, something similar could be taking place, as Dan explains “when we are not aware of what we are thinking and feeling on the inside, or, when we are unaware to how we are reacting to people, deadlines, customers or projects in the workplace. The internal reactions are actually energy that typically has nowhere to go but stuffed down. The reason we don’t allow those emotions to surface is because many of us were never thought how to be authentically expressive with our emotions in a way that will not get us fired. So most people decided it’s better to stuff feelings and thoughts down, because the risk of being authentic is too high. It’s actually a learnable leadership skill to use both negative and positive emotions productively in conversation at work. The alternative to authentically expressing our emotions is we end up walking around as pressure cookers or we become physically sick.”

Dan’s early 20’s experience is not unique- 16 million adults in the US and 350 million worldwide suffer from depression. His 2nd turning point moment is a simple but powerful decision he made after he lost his will to live: he decided to ask for help.

Dan entered in a group therapy program available at the local hospital, where he received the help he needed, and a tremendous awakening of the power of vulnerability- that creates remarkable connection and deep relationships. When he finished his treatment, he felt a deep desire to pay it forward by volunteering on the suicide hot line to help others who may share similar struggles.

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Today Dan earns his living as an executive consultant who coaches leaders and CEOs on emotional intelligence and organizational strategy.

IIDA SoCal is thrilled to have Dan as facilitator at Turning Point Series Summer Workshop in June in all four city centers on Assertive Communication. Here is a 5 min talk Dan gave called Brain of a Leader.

Christina Huang
IIDA SoCal VP of Professional Development
Allsteel Architecture + Design Manager