Dr Charryse Johnson of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder
We are not invincible. Hustle culture and trying to get a new project off the ground can place you on a one-way train to burnout. Before you launch, try to clean up your daily habits, so your well-being doesn’t suffer as you build.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr.Charryse Johnson.
Dr.Charryse Johnson is a veteran psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of Expired Mindsets. She is the founder of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness, an integrative therapy practice where personal values, the search for meaning, and the power of choice are the central focus. Dr.Johnson is boldly creating a new lane between the intersection of mental health, inclusivity, and growth mindset.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
In full transparency, I don’t know if I had much of a childhood. My life was filled with lots of trauma, transitions, and change. I have very few memories of your typical childhood moments, but one amazing constant was my mother. I’m also the youngest, and from what my siblings tell me, I had quite the personality! My favorite place to be was outside in nature, and I was all about getting my hands dirty and exploring the world around me.
Although my life was filled with uncertainty, it taught me to be resilient and to make the most of every opportunity. My determination and desire to help others are rooted in overcoming setbacks and challenges in my own life. When people hear the details of my story, they are often brought to tears. However, I don’t hold myself hostage to the narratives I did not choose. My current chapter of life has been beautiful and blessed.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
I will never forget when I read Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson! Admittedly, when it was assigned in school, I thought it would be boring. Yet, I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. I finished the book in three days! There was something powerful about the friendship between two very different people that connected to the part of me that has always sought to find common ground with others. On a very personal level, it also changed my perspective on grief and the ability to turn it into something positive. Having experienced so many difficult moments myself, Bridge to Terabithia showed me that I was not defined by these instances. It was ok to keep living and loving in all the ways that felt important to me.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Mistakes can definitely be one of our greatest teachers, and I have made my fair share! For instance, when I first started writing, I thought, “how hard can it be? I have written dozens of academic papers.” I was very wrong and completely underestimated the time and energy it takes to write a book WHILE living in a pandemic and going to graduate school. Did I just say all of that? Now, I am not sure if it was funny or if I was crazy! (probably a little of both)
A few months into being a “pretend writer” and barely having a few hundred words strung together, I reached out for a lifeline. I learned that relative experience can still leave gaps in your knowledge and execution. There’s no need to suffer in silence or try to prove you can do it by yourself. Be humble, obtain the right support, and allow the learning process to be enjoyable.
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
Expired Mindsets has already begun to make a social impact, and this is just the beginning. Each year we give a percentage of book sales to Leaves from Stella, a nonprofit that offers scholarships and a pen-friend program for young adults who have lost a parent or sibling. My mother passed away when I was a young adult, so being able to extend the support I didn’t have is my way of paying it forward.
The themes in my book have also been translated into various creative projects that allow readers to uniquely experience the concepts I share. For example, my husband, Randy, is a musician and wrote “Own Your Story, an original song focused on unapologetically embracing your purpose. I have even used this song when educating and encouraging frontline workers navigating burnout.
We have barely scratched the surface! My dream is to have mindset experiences across the world!
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
Now, I can’t give you all the details (smile), but there is one story that readers consistently mention. In Expired Mindsets, I share a deeply personal story surrounding my experiences on Sept.11, 2001. I lived in Frederick, Maryland, about forty minutes from the Camp David presidential retreat. This day changed the face of the entire nation and marked a turning point that still impacts my life today. As I tell this story, I give a detailed account of my experiences and how I navigated the space between love and loss.
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
One word, two syllables….COVID. Working as a therapist during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most surreal seasons of my life. The demand for support was constantly rising, and a resounding phenomenon occurred. For many of us, life came to a complete halt. We could no longer avoid the areas of our lives that needed attention.
It is heartbreaking to tell someone in need you can’t take them on as a new client. Every colleague on my referral list was in the same situation. It felt wrong and unresolved, so I spent many sleepless nights thinking about how to do more.
During the chaos and the craziness, I decided it was time to write a book. I wanted to create something that honored our collective emotional needs while also honoring our stories are all unique. Writing Expired Mindsets was my way of bridging the gap and giving the world a way to process instead of a generic list of self-help steps.
If I’m honest, there are moments I look back through the pages of my book and can’t believe it came to life amid so much uncertainty. It is truly my gift to the world, and the thought was in the quiet and painful moments, these words may help someone make it through another day.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
When I wrote Expired Mindsets, I wanted to make sure it was approachable for everyone. I’ll never forget the first man who reached out to share his experience. There’s still a great degree of stigma surrounding men and mental health, so it was humbling to hear that my book was crossing gender lines. Here’s the message I received,
“I can honestly say you have me doing things that I haven’t done in over 10 years. This is the first book that I’ve ever read that I actually felt like I was there and in your presence of everything that you were going through. Your book has definitely opened my eyes to a lot. I’m changing a lot of things. It is a struggle, but I’m fighting. I want to say thank you for helping me change my life for the better. Just know that I will always be cheering for you to life.
Thank you for sharing your STORY.”
This was the epitome of my dream for Expired Mindsets. I wanted it to be engaging and transformational and inspire others to believe in their power to change as desired.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Oh, I have been waiting for this question all my life. Of course, I have a list a mile long, but here are three key actions I would love to see in place:
- A mandatory mental health curriculum that is offered nationwide, beginning in middle school and appropriately addressing student needs until they complete college (or whatever terminal level they choose).
- Increased funding for mental health professionals to collaborate and support the needs of nonprofits and community organizations. This would extend well beyond the world of EAP and offer highly trained mental fitness coaching geared towards personal development.
- On a societal or political level, a national interstate compact for counselors would help reduce the current overburden on the system. People deserve the freedom to meet with the counselor of their choice, regardless of where they live.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Some schools of thought believe that leadership is something you can learn, a core group of observed behaviors that you can emulate. I don’t see it this way. Yes, we can work to improve our ability to lead, but all leaders are not created equal. Thousands of leaders may look the part and speak the language but cause harm along the way.
True leadership is about relationships. Leaders have an opportunity to plant seeds of potential in everyone around them. They can choose to be transformational or transactional, and a good leader will always be concerned with the needs of those who help build their dream. Many of the most influential leaders in history are marked by a legacy of integrity that led with humility and inspired through respect for others.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
Here are 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Being a Mentally Fit Founder
- We are not invincible. Hustle culture and trying to get a new project off the ground can place you on a one-way train to burnout. Before you launch, try to clean up your daily habits, so your well-being doesn’t suffer as you build.
- Know Your Red Flags. Stay in touch with how you respond when you feel emotionally worn down. There’s some excellent research on founders’ mental health, but the stats aren’t great. For example, founders are 2–3 more likely to struggle with addiction than non-founders.
- Make sure your partners are a good fit. Many founders get excited about new opportunities and then find themselves connected to partners or investors that have become a burden versus beneficial.
- Limit your time on social media. Founders and new entrepreneurs constantly fear they won’t be relevant, or their businesses will fail. Overconsumption of social media can add fuel to that fire and leave you battling constant doubt.
- Your biggest asset isn’t time; it’s ENERGY. If your energy is high, your productivity will be efficient. When we feel sluggish and run down, it increases the temptation to procrastinate and takes us longer to complete tasks.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m a huge fan of Adam Grant, and this quote resonates with one of my core beliefs.
“No one wants to hear everything that’s in your head. They want you to live up to what comes out of your mouth.”
As highly intelligent beings, we are well versed in saying “the right things,” but we can overlook the impact of when our actions don’t match our words. This quote reminds me to hold myself accountable for every message I communicate. I want to be congruent in everyday encounters beyond highlight reels and the pages of my writing.
My words lose power if they cannot be witnessed in how I treat those around me.
Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. ☺
I would love a private lunch with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! He seems like a super cool human; being around him would be inspiring and fun!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Two of the best ways for readers to stay connected with my work are to visit my website, www.drcharryse.com, or follow @dr.charryse_j on Instagram for all the latest updates.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success with your great work!
Dr Charryse Johnson of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.