C-Suite Profile - Darin Hittle
CEO of Contract Land Staff
What physical or emotional traumas, genetic predispositions, or life events have you experienced that you feel had an impact on your ability to feel the healthiest you can feel from a mental health standpoint?
I have ADD, but I don’t see that as a “bad” thing. I have a really tough time completing tasks that aren’t new. I have been limited in some environments that I’ve worked in. Small details that can make a difference, I struggle with them. I can’t say I have had a high level of trauma in my life, which I’m thankful for. One of my immediate family members has been struggling with his mental health for a period of time and I’ve been dedicating my time to better understand WHY things are happening, how best to support him, and how others are embracing stress, trauma, and other mental health battles.
How did those events impact your state of mind and overall psyche in terms of symptoms? You can describe the feelings and/or share a diagnosis if you would like.
With my ADD, I hate to disappoint and it’s a great way to disappoint when you don’t finish tasks. I failed fellow co-workers over the years by not working through the details and I have realized I have to start following up on the small scale, to build the bridge to success on a larger stage. I truly believe that understanding and bridging constant change is what gave me the opportunity to be a CEO. With that said, to really make a difference, I have to remember the details of right now ask for support when I can’t get those done. Unintentionally, by not finishing what I started, I nearly ruined a close colleague’s job and life by unknowingly setting them up for failure and that’s not who I want to be. I won’t be! I also see what is happening with my son and realize that I must dedicate time to understanding these things and why we are the way we are. Stress and trauma affect all of us, and it shows up in unique ways. There are so many signs, signals, and ways people show they are going through difficulties. I realized that I ignored so many of them, focused on the larger next, not on the smaller now, and upon going back and reflecting, I see how that is. I needed to slow down instead of speeding ahead.
How did that experience that you’ve gone through change the way you view mental health?
I have become a better executive by realizing that speeding ahead is a natural enemy of mine because I am in fact missing signals of possible roadblocks in progress. You have to win the crowd, and to win the crowd is to win the details. Know the details of your staff and the people closest to you to best support them. They are the foundation.
Why did you decide to share your story (whether previously or on this site for the first time)? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
Hoping to help my entire family, my son, my team, and others that see this. I love the messaging from #SameHere. I naturally went to “Why aren’t we doing #SameHere in business?” Every one of us. I believe that corporate America gets off easy, and we don’t do enough to educate people. Few kids are watching a CEO video when they’re 12. Why can’t CEO’s get out there and send these messages? 99% of people will be in the general market, yet kids only see Sports Figures and Entertainers say some of these messages. Why can’t I do what Robin Lehner is doing? So here I am.
Why do you value mental health? What is your motivation to help others?
As I mentioned above, so many people, when they’re young, look up to Entertainers and Sports figures yet 99% of people will end up with a “regular” job. Why can’t we have CEOs setting the example? I don’t need to be a star, but I have 900+ employee’s and I feel that every one of them experience stress and trauma so I better set the tone for how I handle stress and trauma and my philosophy on it.
When & why did you decide to ask for help to get relief from those feelings or symptoms?
With regards to ADD, I realized that I would never have a chance at being a great CEO or a CEO at all for that matter if I did not build a mental toolbox around my inefficiencies. To be a great leader is to set up my team for success and if I was just going to use my “pitfalls” as excuses I was never going to support them.
What methods or practices helped you get/feel better?
I run. I walk outside. I get refocused. I run almost every day. Whether short or long, I get refocused. It’s the little things even if I walk for just 2-5 minutes, I get back to myself. I’ve learned that over the years by listening to myself and taking the time to slow down.
If you have told your story before, how did people react when you went public? If you have not previously shared your story, how do you think people will react?
I haven’t told people before, but most people that I interact with regularly know that I’m ADD or “energetic”. I’m hopeful that people will see that this is somewhat relatable. We’re all in this together. I hope we can all better communicate when stress and trauma affect us so we can best support one another.