Life gave us lemons 1: the connection between being a successful business person and childhood abuse

Jason D. Lee is a Survivor working for Acumen Solutions. Here he talks about how he both separates and incorporates his past into his career.

Life gave us lemons
This series demonstrates the value to your organisation of supporting Survivors of childhood trauma. It’s intended to be uplifting, while being mindful of the fact that many are not receiving the support they need. As ever, every Survivor travels a unique path.

We’d love to hear from you if you know a Survivor who’d like to contribute their story.

No one will ever hurt me or take advantage of me again.

One day I’ll tell you the story that led me to that decision.  But once I made it, it was to my core, down to the cellular level.

I’m pragmatic.  I admit that there are costs to that decision.  But there are also benefits.   Benefits that have helped me in my career, evolving from working in retail to now in software consulting.   At any given time, I am running business development conversations and overseeing more than a handful of large projects for our clients.  I’m “successful” at this stage in my career.

Until asked, I never thought about the relationship between being sexually molested for six years as a child and being a successful business person as an adult.   But really, how could there not be?  After considering the possibilities as I reflect on my own life,  here are some examples:

·  My radar is highly tuned.  I rely on my intuition a lot.  The same instinct that helps me profile a potential child molester can also be used in the business world.  I pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues from people I’m speaking with and assess them fairly quickly.  While not perfect, I have a winning track record here, and it helps me identify someone’s motivation, or if they are distracted, or what their priorities are.  This helps me sell, this helps me manage people.

·  I pay attention to power in all relationships.   Power is a very important part of why an adult will choose to molest a child.   Power is also very important in the business world.  I can almost see power flow between people.  It’s very fluid and can change multiple times during a meeting.   Paying attention to the power helps me prioritize my decisions, along with who (and how) to direct my attention to.

·  I gather as much information possible, from every source possible.   Molestation happens in situations where there is little-to-no communication.  Molestation happens in secret.   As a direct response to that, I want to be as open as possible.  I want to know as much as possible, it helps me make better long-term strategic decisions… for me and for my clients.

·  I am skeptical of “the rules”, whatever they may be.  I was told that my molestation was the way parents taught their children about sex education.  Now I know that is just not true.  So now I question all the rules, everywhere.  Why is a specific policy in place?  Does it make sense?  I hate “this is the way we’ve always done it” – which allows me to creatively approach a business problem and find solutions that may not have been considered before.

·  I challenge authority.  Growing up, my authority figures did very very bad things.   Today, I’m judicious in who I grant that power to.   Until I have a level of respect for a person and the position they are in, I assume they are just like me and I have no problem speaking my mind.  In many cases, executed appropriately, this is refreshing to the people I speak with.

·  I listen more than I speak.  It started out of my extreme lack of self-confidence; a byproduct of the molestation.  Now I use it to my advantage.  Not many people take this approach in the modern world.  It’s amazing what can happen in the silence.  Also, a great negotiation tactic.

·  I demand integrity from people who work for me.  I do not tolerate people who say one thing and do another.  I don’t want to work for that person, and I don’t want that person working for me.  I surround myself with like-minded people, which brings enormous value to my line of work.  Because of this people hire me to do what I say I will do and I have a near-perfect record of completing projects on time and under budget.

·  I demand above average performance.  Because of my past, I’ve always felt “behind” my peers.   So I realized I needed to work twice as hard just to be taken seriously.  Today, our customers spend a lot of money with my company for our consulting services and affiliated projects.  I drive my project teams to deliver value.  An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay – and the higher the pay, the higher the standards are.  We need to exceed expectations at every opportunity.

·  I try to make the subjective into objective.   I often get triggered when there are misaligned expectations.   Subjective words can be defined differently depending on someone’s background and perspective.  It requires CLEAR communication and dialogue to agree on what a word or expectation may mean.  So I try to replace any subjective word with an objective one.  It’s the only way we can be successful.

·  Multi-tasking is a myth.  Another tactic my molester used to hide in plain sight was to be involved in so many things he could blend into the background.  We have to pay attention if we are to catch people doing the wrong things.   The more multi-tasking we do, the less attention we can give to the tasks. I do it because I have to do it, but I prefer to do one thing great rather than 5 things average.

If I could go back in time and prevent the molestation, I would do it in a heartbeat.   But I can’t.   So – I gave myself permission to reinvent myself.  I am not defined by my past.  I’m defined by my present.  And I choose to look people in the eye, stay honest about what I can and can’t do, exercise resilience, and do my best at every opportunity.

That’s a winning formula in the business world.

Jason D. Lee

Jason took part in the Bristlecone Male Survivors project, to see his and others’ stories, please follow this link

Disclaimer: Goddard Consultants Coaching Practice CIC is not responsible for the view expressed in this article – the views expressed are those of the blog article author. Blog articles are not an endorsement of an individual or a service.

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