R3-IoT Co-founder and CEO Allan Cannon writes for Mental Health Awareness Week: Loneliness can impact anyone

Loneliness. We all feel it sometimes in our life and for all different reasons. It could be that you are physically on your own, which is what most people think of first when you hear the term, but it can also be when you are surrounded by people. You could also be isolated due to your role in work, or a situation with no one around who can relate to what you’re going through.

That for me is and has been a big challenge and one that I’ve faced time and time again as a founder of a high-growth business. As founders we worry about cashflow, investment, accounts, sales, product, customers, legals and our people (and so much more!). There’s always something needing done and it can be a real challenge to cope with it all. It’s incredibly busy most of the time and, while I wouldn’t give it up for the world, I’ve had to find strategies to help me cope with the isolation that comes from having much of this on my shoulders.

Myself and my co-founder have made a conscious decision to ensure that mental health awareness shouldn’t just be something we think about for one week a year, but every day. It’s why we’ve set out to build a culture of flexibility and trust in our team. Unlimited holidays, the freedom to work hours that suit them – these are part of what we want to build. To have a world-class product we need a world-class work environment. But from a personal point of view, I still feel the effects of leading the business.

R3-IoT Co-founder and CEO Allan Cannon
R3-IoT Co-founder and CEO Allan Cannon

This venture-building journey, which I sometimes describe as a ‘rocket-coaster’ (lots of ups and downs and all at 1000mph), has helped me appreciate that unless you’ve experienced something similar then it’s near-impossible to understand fully what it’s like. Often, only other founders can really relate to my situation, and over the last year I’ve sought out peers to provide me with the ‘therapy’ I need. This peer support group is not formal, and doesn’t need to be - it’s as simple as going for a coffee with someone that has a shared experience and can appreciate some of what I’m going through. This has helped me massively when I’ve felt the pressure of isolation.

I’ve also used this strategy in other areas of my life and truly believe that surrounding yourself with people who are experiencing similar things can relieve that horrendous feeling of isolation.

Give it a try. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.

For more information and resources on mental health, mental health awareness week, and loneliness, visit Mental Health Awareness Week | Mental Health Foundation.

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