A marriage separation has broken his heart. “She’s up the road with another fella, I’ve got the kids”. His mates must know – but how much do they know? He still turns up for work, keeps to himself, does his job. ‘Yeah – he’s fine.’ Except….

“When I go home from work, I wait for the kids to go to bed, and then I drink. I work 4 days on and 4 days off, and its zero tolerance at work, so I make sure I’m right when I’m on. But when I’m off, I just write myself off – 4 days.”

I’m sorry to hear that… who have you talked to about that? “Just you, now. My mates… they must know, but no-one has said a word to me.”

Let’s reframe this:

  • He’s lost his life partner, maternal family presence, and probably chef
  • His relationship with his kids is possibly in decline
  • He’s drinking more, eating badly, exercising less, achieving less, probably putting on weight, losing self respect, blaming himself for stuffing up
  • He’s isolated himself from his mates at work, and probably stays home more, esp. if he’s drunk
  • His finances have halved. He may be gambling on the internet to comfort himself
  • He’s probably not disciplined they way he was, drinks and drives, and hopes he doesn’t get tested on site at work

He faces huge challenges now, and only has to lose his job for a crisis to be fully present. But how visible is this from the outside? For all intents, he’s fine, he’s turning up. Best not to invade his privacy, give him his space.


He is so far also demonstrating a lack of coping skills and resilience as yet unfound – he lacks the skills to communicate to his mates, chooses first to tell a trusted stranger (me) and hopefully that in itself is a step in the right direction. But his instinctive responses are sending him the wrong direction. He needs help. Whose problem is this?

Would the workplace want to know (think also ‘fly in fly out’) if their employees were spending their leisure time so poorly – returning so empty? If the workplace developed his personal coping, could they expect an increase in use of his corporate competencies?
Would his mates be devastated to learn that they were meaning well, but letting him down?
What would a company be willing to invest to keep this capable employee healthy, even if they have not directly created the problem? They certainly have to live the consequences. Why not start something? Help solve this problem.

A pattern has emerged, where he stays up to 2am, drinks 6-7 beers, and roams the dating chat-line while his wife and kids sleep in the next rooms. Harmless right? (he tells himself).

He has no intention to actually meet anyone. Until… there is a request to meet on skype, and to then undress… “oh no – not that – not into that!” Except its already too late – she’s 15, and a Police warning follows – real or fake we don’t know. So much for the harmless bad habit. How did we end up here?

But why start in the first place – where did this habit come from? Restless, can’t go to bed, alcohol to self-medicate, to numb some kind of awareness or pain, and to isolate himself so it remains invisible, and won’t embarrass.
A man navigating his way between the lines – not happy, not on the rocks, and coping by avoidance. Still at work, so he is still outwardly functioning, and for all appearances just like anyone else. Except for the secret discomfort.

What’s the diagnosis? It could be anything – a struggling marriage, rebellious children, boring employment, awareness of aging, declining fitness, no close friends who would listen, guilt over past mistakes, fear of the future…
Each of these are very normal experiences for parents, for adults. On this occasion however, the coping skills are failing – avoidance, worry, not solving a problem, perhaps self-blame and certainly isolation.

We’re challenged here with the final stage of adult development – maturity. And not everyone gets there – especially men.
We typically perceive mental health issues when the functioning fails – when they can’t get to work anymore – or they lose their job – grinding to a halt. But prior to that? The easy jobs had become hard, the avoiding while still appearing to deliver 100% – nearly. There are many people below their best, and if you can see yourself in this, do something about it.

Join us, email Skillbiz to enquire about the 50/50 programme. In a spirit of support, work out what to do. Send me a note. Start something, back yourself.

Studies of the happiest and healthiest 70 year olds found that they displayed 6 characteristics:

  • mature adaptive skills (e.g. deals with problems, optimistic, open, as happy now as ever);
  • a warm partner relationship; strong relationships with children;
  • avoided alcoholism; obesity; gambling (Vaillant, 2013).

When you see the actual statistics, its significant.
How happy will you be at 70? Most of us have one measure – the size of our Super. – as if “whatever happens after retirement, my Super will guarantee my happiness”.

This one idea runs against all our life lessons, but at the end of our careers we cross our fingers and hope.

If you were to set a goal, what else could you name that you take for granted? To live longer? And happier?
We’re a long time retired these days. What’s happy? Sitting on the sofa?

Test yourself right now. What does your future ‘maturity’ look like for you? Give each factor above (the 6 characteristics) a 1-10 scale, and rate yourself. Add up the score – total to a possible 60 points.

What does it mean? Try the eyeball outcomes test…
Find the lowest score, and set a goal.
Find one that bothers you, and step back – why isn’t it better?

The only goal you need is the one you’re interested in solving.