Time for the Tides to Change

A remodeler shares his message to others, including the impact that mental health and talking about it has had on his company.

Sometimes life unveils its profound treasures in the most unlikely places. For me, that happened in Birmingham, Ala. in 2019 following a meeting for my local home builders association. I found myself in a circle with five other men, all fellow members, ranging in age from 37 to 61.

joshua dean
Joshua Dean

Our conversation didn’t revolve around success or business insights. Instead, we somehow transitioned from chatting about calendar management into a vulnerable discussion, sharing our experiences with life’s challenges: tragic loss of family, depression, and intense imposter syndrome. Each of us recounted benefiting from mental health support, including therapy.

We collectively realized that none of us had all the answers on our own. We each reached a point in our lives where we recognized the need to seek help for our well-being, emotional stability, marriages, and children. In an unscripted and spontaneous manner, six male construction business owners formed a circle, fearlessly sharing doubts, difficulties, and moments.

It makes me recall the 1995 film “Crimson Tide.” The Captain of a nuclear submarine faces an urgent threat: Russian rebels are set to launch missiles on the United States, and conflicting orders are given about whether to attack. The film is compelling because its two lead actors respond to the crisis from opposing perspectives: the Captain strictly follows protocol and his Lieutenant Commander will not acquiesce, insisting on verifying a second, interrupted communication.

Conflicts in life, though, are not always defined by peril. Sometimes, they are subtle and nebulous. In those instances, a leader’s willingness to question themselves, acknowledge inadequacies, and utilize resources becomes a supreme quality.

Perhaps leadership does demand unwavering determination at times. However, I contend that the most successful individuals are not those who suppress vulnerability and default to the chain of command, but rather those who dare to admit their weakness, seek help, and actively pursue it.

I have applied the lessons from that day in 2019 personally with monthly meetings with my therapist and professionally by offering unlimited paid time off for my employees. I also encourage my team to seek balance by putting family first. I nag my managers to go home if they are working after hours, and our company never schedules work on the weekends. I share my mistakes as object lessons in our meetings. I am building a company that has “maturing” as one of our core values, which is the acknowledgment that you don’t have it all together and neither does anyone on the team.

I didn’t even know I was looking for encouragement from my peers to prioritize mental health well-being, but I was. I now see how this is a conversation long overdue, not just in myself, but also in our industry. And I think it is time for the tides to change.


Joshua Dean is president of Precision Homecrafters in Birmingham, Ala., and past president of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.