The Bumbling Leader

By Dr. Bob Beare

The most heard complaint in my office and on the intensive workshops at Deep Waters, is “I’m not enough” or some version thereof. IT IS SHAME. And shame is the main byproduct of trauma. We can call it Depression, Anxiety, or a litany of other clinical euphemisms that are billable through insurance…but it is shame.

Sometimes the trauma is subtle like trying to live up to a hero dad or a superstar big sister. Or being bailed out of all consequences by a loving and codependent parent (my story). Or circumstances that force a child to become an adult too soon, missing developmental stages. Or living in a culture where girls should only be nice and boys tough. Or perhaps just being a citizen of a country that sees financial and material success as the holy grail.

Vulnerability is the antidote for shame. Brene’ Brown says, “Shame cannot survive when languaged”. When our negative self-talk is in the dark, it runs the show. Carl Jung said, “…we become enlightened by calling the darkness into consciousness”.

It must be modeled. Do not look to politics for leadership. One ounce of vulnerability or self-disclosure and you are out. I’ve spent a couple of decades studying vulnerable leadership. Though most leaders of this type say it is dangerous, and people will take advantage at times, the highest level of leadership involves emotional risk-taking. The choice to be open, honest, and imperfect is a proven inspiration for followers. The authentic leader inspires the leader in everyone which increases productivity and wellness. All the rules of healthy leadership also apply to parenting by the way.

I would like to see us move toward being a community of folks who are less interested in perfection and appearances and more committed to healing and genuine connection. Life is a blink of the eye, we might as well relax into it and be ourselves. It’s risky, but so is living fraudulently.

Dr. Bob Beare, PhD, LPC-S, CEFT


Bob is in long term recovery and has been a leader in the mental health and addiction field for 20 years. He holds advanced degrees in music, theatre, clinical psychology, and organizational psychology. He is a professional actor and singer, founder of The Brave Heart Experience (men’s intensive healing workshops), The Deep Waters Intensives (for men and women). Bob is the author of The Creative Fire: 10 Weeks to Emotional and Creative Fitness. He is a licensed counselor supervisor, CEO of Deep Waters Recovery Programs and Network, Host of The Recovery Crew Podcast, and Senior Clinical Consultant to several treatment centers.

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